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  • Writer's pictureSarah Gibbs Underhill

Manzanita Goes Home: Norway, Summer 1983

Updated: Apr 3

The further adventures of Manzanita and Crew


Rounding Lindesnes

The day we sailed around Lindesnes, the cape on the southernmost tip of Norway, the wind was blowing fiercely from the northwest. We wouldn't have left the safety of Hidra harbor if the wind were unfavorable, but even running before this much wind was tricky in these unprotected waters.

Friends escorted us in a motor launch as we sailed our sixteen foot open lifeboat out from the protection of the tiny fjord and into the open North Sea. Waves crashed and water boiled around the rocks lining the narrow inlet, and as we scrambled to put on our foul weather gear, we saw our friends' boat pitching and tossing as they waved goodbye and tuned back towards the harbor. We had wanted enough wind to get us quickly through this leg of our trip. This was enough and more than enough, but now that we were out in it, there was no turning back. We had no engine, and the wind and seas were already carrying us southward at a rapid clip.

Before we could turn away from the wind and run directly downwind, we had to reach out around Lista, one of the twin capes that mark the division between the North Sea and the Skagerrak channel on the southwest coast of Norway. The water is shallow around Lista and the waves were already steep, but we plowed though them until we could bear off for the next point, Lindesnes. By that time we and our gear were covered with salt spray, and two different waves had partially broken onboard, setting us to frantic bailing and pumping with our handheld tin bilge pump.

With the seas behind us the boat's motion was easier and we rode somewhat drier. David and I took turns steering while twelve year old Mary sipped bouillon out of a thermos and tried to determine where she could sit with the least danger of getting drenched by the spray. As the wind strength varied during the day, we ran with just the mainsail, with main and jib, or under jib alone. We were moving fast.

As the afternoon wore on the seas continued to grow bigger and bigger, rising up under Manzanita's stern and sending us surfing in a headlong rush. The little lifeboat took the seas very well, although she dipped her gunwhale once or twice, bringing some water aboard. As one of the larger swells picked us up at an unusual angle, it seemed to shrug underneath us, sending Manzanita sliding first one way, then the other. No one spoke as we felt the boat shudder and wobble as if confused; then she regained her balance and settled in to the trough.

"I thought we were goners that time," Mary remarked matter-of-factly. Her father, at the helm, was already looking over his shoulder to see what was coming next.

All of us were glad to get ashore that day. We sailed to anchor at a tiny harbor town in the light of the long summer evening. Although we'd already encountered similar weather conditions along the windy Norwegian coast, this had been the sternest test of Manzanita's seaworthiness so far. She had carried us safely through, around the most difficult points of our voyage, and we felt grateful to have made it, and not a little sobered by the enormity of the forces we had managed to ride.

This was our third summer of lifeboat cruising, and our first in northern waters. After buying our sturdy lapstrake deck boat from a Norwegian freighter in the Caribbean, we had crossed the Atlantic on a big Baltic ketch, with the lifeboat as deck cargo. Two years of coast hopping and hitch hiking in the western Mediterranean brought us and our boat to the south of France, where we were trying to get a river barge to tow us up the Rhone. There we met two Norwegians who had just come the inland route from Germany in a 22 foot "oselvar", a traditional sailing fishing boat which is also a class of racing boat in Norway. They were the only two people we met who were traveling as we were: in an open, engineless boat propelled by oar and sail. They had had the foresight to arrange to meet a container ship near Marseille that would transport them and their boat back home.

It was all the same to the ship's captain whether he took one rowboat along or two, so within a few days we found ourselves hitch hiking north through Europe, to meet up with "Manzanita" when she arrived in the port of Bergen on the west coast of Norway.

Stamped on a small brass plate in Manzanita's stern is the name of a boatyard and a town in Norway: Vikkelins, Grimstad. Looking it up in the atlas, we'd joked about going there some day and visiting the place where our boat was built. Grimstad is south of Bergen, about 250 miles by the coast. By the first week in July, we were ready to start.

Bergen gets an average of 300 days of rain a year, a statistic which our friends were quick to point out to us as we prepared for an open boat trip. This was quite a switch from camping conditions in the Mediterranean, where we'd gotten used to months of cloudless weather. Plenty of warm clothing and good suits of foul weather gear were now in order. We added a two person tent with rain fly and a one burner kerosene camp stove to our gear inventory, and sent up a few prayers to the sun god.

Postcard home, June 13

The Voyage Begins

David and I are back in Bergen and will soon be on the water again. After a winter in Spain, scrabbling for existence amongst the olive orchards, we are about to go rowing for the summer in our lifeboat. It rains a lot here, and everything is expensive. We flew from Palma in the Mediterranean to Oslo, on the unused halves of someone's charter flight tickets. Took a train though the mountains and immediately started painting our boat and getting it ready to launch. David is working already, building a summer cabin out on an island. Mary arrives in two weeks. The days are long here. It stays light 21 hours a day, and everything is lush and green. Everyone's mood is the opposite of what it was when we left in the winter. Now it's frantic activity, little sleep, and general high spirits.

We dream of bringing the boat and ourselves to the USA this winter on a cargo ship for free. We'll see how it goes.

June 9, Batlaget Sandviken [Sandvik Boatbuilders]

We took the night train from Oslo to Bergen, sleeping stretched out in the deserted aisles through sunlit snowy mountains, shadowy blue at midnight, past bright lakes and green forests. Took a bus from Bergen station to the outlying village of Sandviken and trudged around the nausts [boathouses] until we got to our familiar one. We found Cari and Georg Gundersen, our old friends from last year, who are living aboard "Albatross" now, tied up outside the naust. Found Herr Hammer, the proprietor, with engine oil and soot on his face. And there we found "Manzanita", right where we had left her, a little dusty and dried out, but otherwise fine.

We started right in cleaning, sanding, vacuuming her out, and she is now freshly painted inside.

Yesterday David started work with Georg building someone a summer cabin on an island a half hours' turbo ferry ride from here. Curtis Andersen, another American, is nearby, living on his boat "Svanen" ["the Swan"] and working building boats. Trevor the red haired giant Scotsman is on a boat delivery to Portugal. Geir and Petter, our fellow small boat cruising friends, are in the neighborhood. It was sunny the first day or two but is now precipitating. We are again surrounded by wooden boats, the smell of tar, magpies cawing from the red tile roof. The money goes alarmingly fast, but now David is earning more, a higher wage than in Spain.

June 13

Still encamped in Sandviken. Yesterday we all went sailing on a big gaff "cutter", about a 55' ketch I would call it. Just back and forth in the bay, but there was wind, the skies were clear, and it was great! The crew was Harold, Georg and Cari, Knut, Jan-Odin, Hoenning, and a young girl who had come in from the rain the night before. Two nights ago we watched Jan-Odin on TV on his boat, and tonight there was a show about jakts including some footage of putting the mast in "Oline", the big jakt they are restoring here. We all watched it and ate cake that Cari made. Curtis came too. He was sailing on Long Island sound two years ago and met up with "Clearwater" doing her annual "careening" on the beach in Port Jefferson, so he knows some of our crew mates. Tomorrow with any luck we should get "Manza" out of mothballs and down into the parking lot. It has been rainy, cold and miserable oftener than not, so far.

June 18

It is gray, chilly, and drizzling outside in typical Bergen fashion. I'm sitting in the boathouse, about to go and measure our boat for a new jib. I'll also throw a few more bucketfulls of water into the boat, which is now outside in the parking lot waiting to be launched tomorrow. It was successfully lowered into the parking lot from its winter home on the second story of the naust building, with help from Georg, Cari, Knut, Curtis and Jan-Odin. I finished painting it, and then filled it up with water. It got quite dry over the winter and leaks like a sieve, but should swell up quickly once back in its element. It's all gleaming and spotless with fresh paint and varnish, but wont stay that way for long once we start sailing.

David is out on the job. He's been working six days a week and earning more than double what he was making in Spain. It's very fortunate that he got this job, through friends here at the boat shop

We have bought a little camp stove, kerosene fueled, to use this summer, so we don't have to depend on finding dry firewood everywhere we go. We are eager to start traveling. It will be very different from the Mediterranean jaunts. The weather is still very nippy most days, and there will be trickier navigation amongst all these islands.

We got a warm welcome from our friends here. We are in amongst a bevy of boat-folk, mostly Norwegians, all with beautiful old wooden boats.

I'm glad to say that my "command" of the language has improved. I can understand the gist of what is said and am starting to speak it also. David is picking it up at work and we both study our " Learn Norwegian in Three Months" book, although David has crossed out "months" on the cover and written in "years".

Several people have encouraged us to try to get a freighter ride back to the US. The freight ships are reportedly all low on crew now, as it is so expensive to pay them, and we would work in exchange for passage. We'll see.

June 22

Midsummer night is approaching and the moon waxing. There are twenty hours of sunlight per day. Mary is arriving soon. Yesterday, David and I and the forklift launched Manzanita and she is tied like a tender off of "Oline's" bowsprit and leaking minimally.

"Oline" is a 45' wooden "jakt" which has been redecked and rigged by the intrepid Georg and Cari, who found her working as a fishing boat about three years ago. Still sound after 70 years in frigid northern waters, "Oline" has now regained her traditional sloop rig and her engine and pilot house were removed. Fleets of jakts "Oline"'s size and larger had been used as cargo vessels in the past, carrying lumber and firewood and making annual winter trips to the codfish grounds further north, where they loaded up with salt cod to be distributed to Germany and points south. We took her out for a sail on Sunday, just Georg and Cari, Knut, and the two of us. We *rowed* the huge heavy vessel out of the harbor, as there was little wind, but then had a lovely brisk sail and sailed all the way back in. Trevor arrived back last night from an epic delivery cruise to Lisbon. We had invited his wife Turid to dinner so he came too. Everyone is happy to see him back alive. To celebrate, Turid proudly served us some of her latest batch of homemade booze [liquor is extremely expensive to buy here, due to the taxes], a beverage so ghastly and toxic that one has to blow the off-gassing fumes away from the top of the glass before attempting to drink. When she left the room I cravenly poured my drink back into the pitcher, causing her to gladly refill my glass as soon as she returned, exclaiming, "Oh, you like it!" I am in the middle of making a new jib, waiting for a sewing machine to become available. Weather has been gorgeous for the past three days.

June 26

Just back from two days of sailing with Trevor on "Blid" ["Blithe"], his old wooden fishing boat. We are tired and windblown but it was great fun, wandering amongst the islands to the northwest of here and circumnavigating Tuftoy, the island David's been working on. So we got a taste of what we're in for this summer. It was truly cold at times, also rainy, sunny, and extremely windy. There was at least a breeze just about the whole time, so we had very little motoring. But it was nice to be able to motor when convenient and to come below deck to eat and sleep out of the weather. This is a beautiful place.

We set Trevor's trollgam gill net last week, leaving it overnight to see what would get tangled in it. Cari and I hauled it in next morning with a catch of four crabs, four cod, two pale-fish, and a flounder.

We went out for an evening sail on "Oline" for midsummer night with a whole crowd, past the many bonfires burning on shore. Georg remarked drily that a popular source of fuel for the traditional midsummer night bonfore is an old wooden boat. They burn well. Getting off the wharf there was a light headwind, and since "Oline" has no engine, they tried rowing her out with the big sweep oars and us towing with Manza. A power boat appeared and offered a tow. The towline was too long, so in making the turn into the harbor he had to stop and shorten it while we drifted nearly onto the rocks, fending ourselves off them with the oars. Once we were out, though, it was a smooth sail back and forth, with a barbecue on board. Coming back in we saw that one of the warehouses was on fire, so we rushed people ashore, using Manza as the yawl boat, to phone the fire department, but they had already been called and duly arrived. "Oline" managed to drop an anchor to brake on and reached her berth with no trouble. Harold's boat came in soon after and crashed into Jan-Odin's so there was much excitement and rushing around, and then we ate cake and cream on deck. The sun had set at midnight or so.

June 30

We are busy getting ready to set off in the lifeboat. We have never been any good at catching fish, but on advice from the locals we just bought our own small gill net, were taught how to use it, and have been dining on the results [ two crabs, two flounder, a cod, a blue scale bass] after throwing back a bunch of non-keepers like an 18" jellyfish, on the first try. We set it out overnight and haul it in first thing in the morning with great anticipation. Tomorrow will be David's last day of work, and we will leave the shelter of Bergen as soon as we get a good north wind. The prevailing winds do blow from the north during this short Norwegian summer, which suits our purposes very well.

Mary arrived safely two days ago. She is bigger, able to row the boat by herself now, and she has a good attitude towards the trip at the moment, which I hope the moist weather here will not change too drastically. She is sewing right now, a stuff sack for her sleeping bag. We all went out on "Blid" one day.  Trevor teased Mary by telling her gravely that she could catch fish just by holding a frying pan over the side of the boat and banging on it with a spoon, and she fell for it, briefly, and tried the method. We have made the tourist rounds of the Bergen aquarium, folklore museum, and stave church, and are frantically getting ready for our departure: sewing sails, buying groceries, and making notations on newly purchased charts. We tentatively hope to go 200 miles south by July 20. There is a big gathering of wooden boats there then, and all of our friends are coming. One or both of us will return to Bergen by August 23rd to put Mary back on the plane.

We're looking forward to a wild summer. This place is more rugged than Maine, and further north. At least it doesn't get dark at night. That makes it seem more hospitable. We are seriously readying ourselves for the move: back outside, onto the boat. It was a bit scarifying, last year because we had the long sea passages to complete to get to the mainland of Spain; this year it's daunting because of the inclement, chilly weather. The past two days have been sunny and clear but today was gray and rainy.

We got the lay of the land last week sailing with Trevor, or at least a glimpse of what the terrain is like: steep pine clad slopes dropping precipitously into clear deep water from a rocky shoreline. It's a wilderness out there! And very beautiful. We'll see how far south we can get.

July 9

We spent a week with Mary in Sandviken, buying supplies and completing the new jib, which is fuller and not so heavy as our first one. The weather was rainy, cold and awful. We finally left three days ago, although the weather was still bringing south or southwest winds.

We plan to visit several boat shops where small boats are being built. We also hope to participate in this annual meeting of wooden boats from all over Norway. The site for the convention is the small island town of Rasvag, 180 miles south of Bergen.

"See you in Rasvag!" we yelled to the crew of "Oline" as we rowed away. They are planning to make the trek with the same means of propulsion we have: oars and sail. As we left the harbor, an unspoken attitude of mutual pessimism seemed to prevail. "Oline" worried that we might not reach our destination, while we had the same fears for her.

We rowed across Bergen harbor to Nordnes to visit Curtis at work in his boatshop. From there we sailed and rowed surprisingly far, to Tyssoya where there was an idyllic little campsite. We set the gill net to fish overnight and put up the tent against clouds of gnats.

Up early, pulled two fish from the net [ it rarely comes up empty], and we set off rowing in a calm. A south wind came up and we tacked along the east coast of Sotra, intending to visit Jan Hauseburg, another boatbuilder, at its tip. But the wind was coming west quite briskly into the mouth of the Bjorneford, so we opted for one long close reach across to the islands by Aesevoll.

We caught a fair wind for Strandvik so we continued, sailing wing and wing. Reached into the tiny little cove of Uvik, and David went to look for Petter Southall, the oselvar traveler, while Mary and I cooked on the beach. Petter took us all back to his house and the boat shop where he works. Rafted up to his sleek "Kvalen" ["Whale"], Manzanita looks as heavy and unwieldy as a barge. Hval, David and Mary's last name, is the Swedish version of the Scandinavian word for their namesake marine mammal.

Last summer Petter sailed "Kvalen" from Norway to Germany, and then rowed to the Mediterranean via the canals of Germany and France, where we met him and his crewmate Geir Madsen.The graceful Kvalen can sail circles around our lifeboat and goes to weather like a bat. Petter is in the middle of building a new one and doesn't have time to come exploring with us. We spent two nights there in extreme luxury, eating smoked salmon and watching slides.

We left Petter's around noon and reached across to Tysnes, rowing the tortuous passages through the little islands towards Vage. Went through one channel but couldn't get all the way through because it was low tide. Some property owners picnicking there told us we were not welcome to wait for the tide there so we turned, retraced our steps and took another channel, rowing against the wind. Fought our way over to the other side of Vage, and David is now ashore talking to Harald Dalland, one of Petter's boatbuilding teachers. So far the weather has been shockingly beautiful. Wind still west. Harald bulds oselvars also. We are spending the night in the boatbuilding shop, where Harald spread some old sails on piles of wood shavings to make a comfortable bed for us.

"That's the bed that the Fant, the fjord travelers, used to use, " he told us. "No need to sleep outside."

July 14

Harald regaled us with stories of boats and boatbuilding for half the night. He pointed out that one of the distinctive features of the oselvar is the shape of the garboard strake, which is concave on the outside. This traps air beneath the boat, reducing surface friction.The garboard is made in three peices, fore to aft, joined by two riveted scarf joints. Harald uses no glue in the boats' construction; the scarf faces are wood tarred.

Oselvars are clinker built with only three wide boards to a side. Narrow and light, they can be rowed efficiently yet are reliably seaworthy. They were used as seagoing fishing boats during the 19th century. Two or three men would row the 22-26' boats out of the fjords in the early morning calm, going up to twenty miles out to sea. There they would fish and then sail home with the seabreeze in the afternoon. The boats had square sails up until the Second World War, and they sailed so well that they began to be used as regatta boats by the leisure class in 1889. They are still raced today, but usually with a fore and aft sail rig. Constructed with three wide boards to a side, lapstrake, the boats are springy and flexible. The middle strakes' finished width at bow and stern may be 16". Light enough to row efficiently, they are also reliably seaworthy.

Harald's boatshop is right on the water, and his stock of oak is beside the shop, soaking in the sea. "It keeps it from twisting," he remarked, "and gets it accustomed to its element." He takes it out of the water two weeks before using it.

We are currently sitting in Tananger, the jumping off point for Egersund and Flekkefjord. After we left Dalland's shop, we rowed and sailed down through the cut and crossed Langemuin after dinner, rowing to windward into the Bomlo near Fitjar. Set the net and slept on shore while a mother oyster catcher bird scolded us all night. Next morning pulled up the net which contained a three foot cod, among other things. Rowed and sailed south through the Bomlo and were able to sail downwind into Dafjord, where we visited a slipway in search of a jakt, which wasn't there. On down the way, we rowed through a narrow canal and reached south some more. Anchored between two islands to boil up fish and eat.

Campsites are plentiful, and we go ashore each evening to set up the tent and cook. Waking early, we pull in the fish net, picking out the stinging jellyfish which are often fouled in it, untangling the fish, cleaning and salting them. Then breakfast, while the net is spread out to dry. If we are impatient to get underway we can eat a cold meal of cereal and fruit in the boat. We are still getting used to the luxury of a camp stove and have experimented with cooking onboard, adding the drama of leaping flames to the general chaos of sailing the lifeboat.

Manzanita's sail rig now consists of a Gunter rig mainsail, with the spar held almost vertical next to the mast. The mainsail is loose footed, but when running downwind we pole it out on an oar to prevent it from jibing all the time. The full cotton jib can be replaced by a smaller, heavier jib in strong winds.

There is no shortage of wind. The oars are getting so little use that their chafing leathers, worn to shreds by the end of a season in Spain, should still be in good condition at the end of the trip. No complaints from us on that score.

Every few days we stop in a town to shop, stroll around, or partake of some rich Norwegian ice cream. Many coastal towns have extensive folk museums with displays of traditional fishing techniques and records of the widespread ship building industry which flourished on the south coast during the 19th century.

A strange northerly breeze woke David this morning at a suspiciously early hour. Mornings have usually been calm here, so we guessed that there would be a blow later in the day. We suspected it would increase and decided to ride it. Since we had a stretch of open water to cross, we got underway at once so as to get in the lee of something before it got too bad. It was still almost noon by the time we were ready to go, and sure enough, it blew. By late afternoon we had covered a lot of ground and were "speeding " along at seven knots in a well-protected reach. We zoomed south to Haugesund under full sail, crossing the Bomlofjord. David and I were ready for a nap after our early morning start, and Mary said she'd steer and navigate for awhile. After giving her instructions we both fell sound asleep for the better part of an hour, leaving Mary in charge for the first time. She had absolutely no trouble piloting us down the unfamiliar channel, and when we woke up, refreshed, was able to tell us just where we were. She is also accustomed to steering whenever we row, acting a coxswain to compensate for the fact that Dave and I are not an evenly matched rowing team which means she has to adjust the course almost constantly.

We stopped to shop for an hour in Haugesund, then continued downwind at a screaming pace in the protection of Karmoy sound. Stopped in a deep cove at Vestre Bokn.

We had covered nearly 30 miles and it was still only around 4:00 pm. We camped in a verdant sheep pasture under an elder tree, and slept and slept.

Up next day and the wind was still howling northwest. Uncertain whether we should leave or not, to cross the open water of Stavanger Bay. Slept some more. Then the wind seemed to have "decreased" so we set out. The first two miles were in the protection of Vestre Bokn, where we ended up dropping sail and all lurching to port to get the mast under a low bridge. Within sight of the open water we put a reef in the main and put on the smaller jib. And then we were surfing. All was reasonably calm, running under reefed main alone, until we came to Kvitsoy where there were abundant shoals and rough water. We traversed bumpy seas until we got close to the island, where we stopped to eat lunch and examine the charts. There were nasty looking clusters of shoals ahead, but running downwind we were able to avoid them.

Got into Tananger in the early evening, we think. We have no clock and no real idea of the time. Walked into town to get water, boiled up the last of the big cod and were given another by a fisherman. Slept in the loft of a creaky old naust and woke up to gray skies.

A day or two of rain will likely find us holed up in an abandoned boathouse or fisherman's shack.

The weather report is for rain followed by a northwest gale. The sky looks ominous. We have elected to wait and see what comes. There is a towing service from here as well and we still have a week to travel the 65 miles to Flekkefjord before the big party. So we're taking it easy.

Taking protected routes through the fjords and islands, we are now well on our way and are enjoying the long hours of daylight. The water is cold for swimming, and deep right off the shore. We anchor cautiously amongst the rocks. Dave has had to dive to free our small anchor several times.

Hake, flounder, bass, crabs, and of course codfish, have become staples, along with potatoes: a traditional Norwegian diet which the Norwegians themselves have happily abandoned in favor of expensive super market fare. Salted and kept in the shade, the fish keep for several days without refrigeration. Mary balked at the unvaried menu until we learned to disguise the fish as hamburgers, mixing boiled fish meat with mashed potatoes and frying them in patties.

July 16

Egersund. Exhausting 38 mile day in big swells, downwind from Tananger. A record breaking traveling day . Big seas.

Yesterday we had rain, squalls, and high winds while we lurked in Tananger. We visited a couple on a teeny boat [ but one with a cabin] coming from Nordland , going to Oslo. The day before we had walked to the oil drilling base and got a tour of one of the rig tenders, the "Siddis Sailor."

There was rain this morning, so we wore foul weather gear in the boat for the first time. But with the north wind the skies cleared. The north wind is still howling now.

July 17

Hidra. A 25 mile day, light breeze, downwind, in the lee. Much more pleasant than yesterday. We are still tired from yesterday. The tiny harbor of Rasvag on Hidra is well protected, but the North Sea is right outside. To the east lie the two capes that mark the beginning of the Skaggerak and to the northwest a forty mile stetch of virtually harborless, featureless coast , the "Jaeren".

So we are here! In time for the boat festival, which doesn't start until the 20th. We have found a beautiful camping spot just opposite the tiny town of Rasvag. The net is set, the tent is set up, there are herons squawking around and a mink running up the hill and scaring Mary, who was cooking dinner.

July 18

A good day. We are having a very pleasant time. Up and got the net. Two large blue scales which we stewed up. Cooked cornmeal pancakes for breakfast. Then it began to rain and we rowed over to town.

It is a perfectly picturesque town. All skiffs and flower gardens with ladies polishing the rain drops off their windows. We visited some Norskys on "Brodrene' ["The Brothers"]. More pretty boats came in this afternoon.

We started a big fire and cooked hot soup and sandwiches. The weather tried to clear and we made a shrimp net for Mary. This is a good and happy time. Appreciate it. It happened mainly by accident. And the future? The future holds...?

July 20

Day one of the Boat Fest. It is blowing like a son of a bitch, a gale out of the northwest, so not many boats have arrived today, in fact, only one, a steam powered ex-whaler. The crews of boats which have arrived early wait in the harbor to see how many others will show up.

Yesterday we spent a lot of time in town visiting boats. Mary made friends and vanished with a Norwegian family. Various boats made dramatic entrances, all motoring as it was quite blustery.

We had just started rowing off to bed when we spied "Oline"'s mast truck and reefed red sail sneaking up to the narrow entrance to the outer harbor. She glided through, coasting on the last of a strong following wind. As she got closer, we saw that she intended to sail right through the even narrower inner harbor entrance, the first of all the arriving craft to do so. We escorted them in, rowing madly. They brought down the house with the harbor viewers by sailing right into the inner harbor. When she squeezed into the lee, she lost way so the crew got out their twenty foot oars, and we took a towline from them to help swing their bow around, as an audience gathered on the pier. They dropped an anchor, facing upwind out of the harbor, and we towed them towards their berth, pulled the head around and brought their dock lines ashore ,then went on board to drink a toast to safe arrivals.

Safe and sound. It was a good moment. We had each been worried about the others' expedition. They were short handed for such a big heavy engineless boat, so had a marathon trip with only four of them to stand watches. We drank Danish schnapps and grinned at each other.

The organizer of this boat fest is Tryggen Larsen, editor of "Kysten" ["Coast"] magazine, which is devoted to wooden boats and the coastal culture of Norway. He lives aboard the 60' jakt "Brodrene af Sand" ["Brother's of Sand"] which he has been restoring for the past fourteen years. He recently sold his house to continue financing the restoration project. "Brodrene" is 140 years old, and her restoration is nearing completion: she lack only spars and sails.

Today the wind has increased again, but so has the festive atmosphere. David and Mary are among the missing and I'm perched in Manza drinking "kultur milk" and surveying the scene. It's not raining. Curtis is here on "Svanen"; fourteen other "gaffel" [gaff rigged] boats are here, stern to the quay.

July 21

Today the weather has moderated and a few latecomers arrived. Almost forty wooden boats are attending the meeting, among them the Norse Seafaring Museum's three masted schooner, another "Svanen". Most of the boats in attendance are Norwegian, but a few have come up from Denmark and Germany. This is the second annual meeting, and sailing and rowing races, lectures on nautical subjects, prize giving and general merry making are on the schedule.

Chatting with the owners of thirty or forty foot yachts, I find myself irresistibly drawn into the absurd situation of comparing our boating experience to theirs. Discussing the voyage we had all made to reach Hidra, one skipper mentioned that he had a reef in the mainsail for the final leg of the trip. "Oh, so did we, " I piped up, [Manzanitas' sail, when reefed, is approximately the size of a large pillow case] But I've spent enough time on larger craft to know that it's not so different traveling in a small boat. It's just that all the least convenient aspects of yachting are intensified when you go sea voyaging in miniature. It's all there: the lack of storage space; cramped, uncomfortable quarters; the nauseating rocking motion; the tediously slow speed. The inconvenience of having the hood of one's foul weather gear serve as the equivalent of a decked over cabin during a heavy rain is a good example of this phenomenon.

Having the entire heavens for one's roof can be annoying when it's raining, but the sunny days make up for it, and when all our things are dry again and we are enjoying the view and glad not to be smelling an engine's diesel fumes, we are able to raise sail and go at a moment's notice without spending cash at an alarming rate.

Another pitfall we have in common with the yachtsmen is the lack of privacy, not to mention elbow room. Luckily we are able to tolerate each other's company for the most part, although by the end of a long day we're ready to argue bitterly about any subject that comes up, especially if it involves the communal chocolate supply. When Mary wants some time alone she has taken to huddling in the bow under the spare jib in an amorphous blob, earning the nickname "Jib Woman".

July 27

Still on Hidra. The fest proved to be a bit too much for us. Sailing races, rowing races [I rowed Manza in one, with Mary playing coxswain], dancing and prize giving, drinks and coffee on all the various boats. A riotous occasion from which we are still recovering.

We all left with "Oline" to help sail her home, but after the first leg of the voyage, after we were towed by "Hausten" to Haugesund, David took Mary and left, because he was jealous of me making eyes at one of the crew, who also then left.

I hung around for a day. The weather was calm, or light breezes. In the end I hitched a ride south on a plastic Finnish yacht. This took me to a tiny town north of Egersund which smelled of fish and minks.

At 11 pm I got a ride in a car with three guys, to Egersund. Yammered at them in Norwegian They finally understood that I wanted to be let out to sleep by the side of the road, after I refused to stop at a motel which looked shut anyway. When they let me off one said [more or less] ,"You can camp down the road there, but I wouldn't want to sleep out here." Thanks for the tip, buddy.

Slept on a pile of gravel about two yards form the road, but hidden [or so I fondly imagined.] Heard troll noises booming in the hills and carloads of drunken Norwegians pissing in the bushes nearby, shouting "AC DC!"

When it was light I discovered there was a graveyard on one side of the road, and a river, with baby ducks, on the other.

Cars passed me by until I made a sign saying FLEKKEFJORD, finger painting on a piece of trash plastic out of a jug of used motor oil. A truck full of soda pop picked me up and took me to Flekkefjord.

The three masted British training schooner "Winston Churchill" was there on the quay. I took a rattle trap ferry out of the fjord, picked raspberries, cooled my feet in the water, and took another ferry to Hidra.

We are back together and enjoying the fine weather, bathing, doing laundry, singing and eating crabs with the clan who befriended us and kept Manza for us- Atle, Anna and Gisle, a family of artists who are related to the D'Aulaires [authors of the children's book, "Norse Gods and Giants", among many others. ]The local papers are making much of us. Our summer voyage was in two papers and on the radio. We are living on an island, living the good life for a few more weeks with friendly Norwegians sheltering us from the rain in their cabins. We are still planning on sailing together in our little floating home.

July 28

North wind today on Hidra. Clear until this evening when it started to rain. Three blue scale bass and six crabs in the net. We were at the Vage household all day, David digging a ditch to drain their foundation; me picking crabs and translating the two newspaper articles about us, Mary swimming and going to town to buy milk and chocolate with Atle in one of the launches. Crab chowder for dinner, playing cards and dice with Mary, singing a song at Vage for the old man, Atle's father. The sun blisters on my hands are healingup now. Twenty five miles to Lindesnes, then another 70, approximately , to Grimstad. The the winter yawns its jaws at us as never before. It is all up to chance now, up to which ship we find and where it's going.

July 30

Second evening at Atle, Anna and Gisle's house. Just ate spicy fish soup, crabs, mussels, strawberries from the neighbor's garden. So much north wind. We haven't been to our camp since yesterday morning. David is still ditch digging, a bit of cash along the way. Guitar music these nights. I've finally written a couple of letters home. Mary is happy: we've chanced upon a taste of a fairly normal summer: visits, summer houses, other people, other kids, dogs to throw sticks to.

August 5

We are around the two big points, Lista and Lindesnes. Did them both in one day yesterday. Didn't even leave Vage until about 2:00 pm. We wore foul weather gear. It was a wet and dangerous day, our first day back in the boat after two weeks of shore living. We were glad to be alive at the end of the day, exhausted, weak. Atle showed up looking for us on the quay where we were tied up at the end of the day, and we were so exhausted we could only wave and smile at him. Probably he just wanted to be able to tell Anna that we made it there alive.

But today is a beautiful day . We sailed downwind two miles to a sandy, sunny beach, with warm shallow water full of mussel beds. Fifty miles to our destination; two weeks to get there.

August 7

We are at Mandal, camped on another sandy beach. We ate huge feasts of mussels two nights in a row. Tonight, fish cakes with two of the five blue scales we got in the net this morning. Good weather and lazy days. After the Lindesnes experience we feel like taking life easy for awhile and going nowhere at all.

August 8

Up early to bathe in the sea and sail, then row, into Mandal town. Bought food, spent an hour or two in the town museum examining wooden bilge pumps, sea gull drowning mechanisms, oil paintings, photos of old sea captains. Then we sailed downwind, upstream in the Mandal river, after devouring smoked peppered mackerel. Up the lovely green river under the sun. Now camped for the moment on a point on the west bank, going to wait and hope for the evening land breeze to carry us back out of here. Reading the adventures of Tintin with Mary: "Destination Moon".

August 10

Kristiansand. Left Mandalselven early yesterday morning, rowing with the current in the morning calm. Stopped briefly in town to drink coffee and shriek at each other. Then a lovely eighteen mile sail to Uter Flekkero island, where we bumbled into a little cove looking for a passage. We had decided to camp up on a blueberry patch when a guy came up and literally took us all home with him. He had seen the article on us in the Kristiansand paper. He and his wife fed us enormous quantities of raspberries, wine and cheese. We cooked fish cakes in their kitchen, sang and played guitar, and slept in beds.

Slept late, ate a delicous breakfast and sailed the three miles to Kristiansand.

They had told us of a ship that makes semiregular runs from here to Baltimore and Quebec and we intended to visit the company's office. So we did, but we arrived ten minutes too late so will wait until tomorrow morning. This is a big city, relatively speaking, and there is a fairly busy shipping trade.

August 11

We are a mere twelve miles from Grimstad, camped on a tiny island in a narrow, protected thoroughfare. An exciting sail today from Kristiansand, reaching and tacking.

Last night we slept on board in the boat tent at a marina, after visiting an old steam ship, "Kysten 1", which arrived in the evening.

This morning we got up early and went to the shipping office, where we didn't get past reception. Then sailed away from the town. We'll probably be back.

Noth wind is blowing, but we are in a safe place andour bellies are full. Playing cards, the three of us. "L'hiver c'est peu loin." The winter is not far off.

August 13

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Grimstad town. We left our camp and sailed two miles to Lillesand where we stopped for a coffee. Then winding our way through the intricate passage full of shoals and narrow channels and short cuts. We sailed up to the dock at Grimstad, walked through town, bought an ice cream, then returned to the boat where we all fell asleep. Sunny skies, wind still northwest. A whistle woke us up and there was Od, one of the Vage clan from Hidra. He had been passing through on his way there and thought he'd take a look round for us.

Grimstad is one of the "white towns" of Norway, so named due to the white clapboard houses which cluster around the harbor picturesquely. From the water the town must look much as it did when it was a bustling shipbuilding port. It's a small place, and after asking around a little we were directed to the Vikkelins boatshop at the back end of the fjord. Just as Od left and we had decided to explore the adjacent small fjord where Manza's boat factory is or was, it started to rain. In hauling up the anchor it became fouled on a mooring chain and a large stinging jellyfish. By the time we had gotten free of that, the wind died, and soon we were rowing in rain showers up towards Spedalen. Stopped at a yard where modern plastic lifeboats, bright orange, are manufactured. Wandered around the yard locating the office of"Jorgensen & Vik", as it's called; maybe the "Vik" is from "Vikkelins"? A beautiful, large double ended lifeboat was in the shed, but there was no good place to camp so we drifted and rowed back towards town to camp on Malo island.

The skies cleared last night, but this morning they are full of gray layers of cloud . Wind still somehow north. We have arrived! A full week now to explore this little town in search of Manza's history.

Aug. 14

We are camped on top of a mink den up near Vik. Yesterday we wandered throughout Spedalen and did locate a boatbuilding shop, but no one was there. Today is Sunday and we are relaxing in the shade. North breeze. tomorrow back to our investigations.

August 15

This morning we dealt with the morning's fish haul: two cod, a lyr, a large fluke. Then tacked against a muggy southwest up to the plastic lifeboat factory. We asked about Vikkelins and were directed elsewhere. Then to town to arrange to buy train tickets back to Bergen in two days time, buy Mary a new raincoat, call up a newspaper and the guy who works building boats for the UN, whom we hardly know. Sailed downwind to the sure enough, still functioning Vikkelins Batbyggeri.

Erling Torvolt, the boat builder who runs the Vikkelins shop, received us calmly. It turned out that he was expecting us, having read the article in the paper that mentioned our quest. He was able to tell us that "Manzanita" had been built by his uncle, Nils Torvolt. We saw the building she was built in, and he showed us the old ledger that recorded that the 16' gig, # 844, had been sold to a freighter in Fredrikstad in 1950. The price was 1600 kroner, or about 16,000 kroner today. We bought her for $1200, or about $8400 kroner.

So "Manzanita" was tied to the pier outside the building where she'd been built thirty years ago. We were delighted to have brought her back .

A reporter came from the local paper, and we happily showed our boat to everyone. Mr. Torvolt seemed entirely mystified by the "crazy Amerkanskers" who would sail a tiny rowboat halfway over Europe to visit this shop, and didn't quite know what to make of us. Neither does anyone else, for that matter.

But he looked "Manzanita" over with appreciative interest. He had helped his uncle build similar boats. Wooden boats are out of vogue in Norway now, he told us. He was lofting a 35' fishing boat of his own design for a customer, to be built in fiberglass by another shop. But he still builds wooden boats too, a few small launches and pleasure boats, with the same care and quality of workmanship that his uncle put into "Manzanita". We've been thankful for the strength of her solid construction many times, and learned from experience to trust her in a variety of rough sea conditions we could appreciate the skill that built a boat so well adapted to its rugged native coast.

A 25' "snekka" was under construction in the shop, a double ended inboard motor launch, clinker built, which is popular in southern and western Norway. He was also lofting a 35' fishing boat of his own design, to be built in fiberglass by another shop. Aside from the handful of wooden boat fanatics we've met, most Norwegians seem surprised that anyone could be interested in sailing wooden boats. Everyone has an old wooden boat or two rotting away in the backyard.

We attempted to sail away and went on the rocks; had to leap out and tow the boat off, then rowed away, regained our dignity, and tacked back to the tent.

Tomorrow we will meet people at the plastic boat place: Oyvind Gulbrandsen, Mr. South Seas himself, with whom we've been corresponding about working for the UN building wooden boats in Kiribati; and supposedly a reporter from the Oslo paper that Atle works for. It is a gray day with showers of rain. We lurk in the tent as ever, but soon, soon, we will be on our way back north: the overland route.

Aug. 16

Up early today to tack and row in a flukey west wind. David and Mary talked to Mr. Gulbrandsen and we are going to his house for dinner tonight. Reporters from a major newspaper failed to show up. Now we're cafe sitting, biding time until our dinner invitation.

Tomorrow night we will leave and go to Bergen by train. We can leave Manza at her birthplace. Maybe we'll spend the weekend on the "Gladhval." Mary leaves on the 22nd. Then we'll make our way back down here and start getting serious about a search for winter possibilities. September first is the end of the boating season in Norway. Days are already getting shorter, the nights cooler.

Aug. 28

Back in Grimstad. We took the night train up to Bergen, after a pleasant dinner, shower, and beds for the night at the Gulbrandsens'. They gave us more applications for jobs with the UN Fisheries Department, showed us boats, fed us mackerel, and offered their summer hut for us to live in and a place to bring Manza out on the beach for the winter. Oyvind and Margaret are enthusiastic about our travels and told us to try again for the UN boatbuilding jobs, so we can dream again of tropical islands. Oyvind said he would recommend David for the jobs.

It was a long train odyssey to Bergen. We got there in the early afternoon, and went to Sandviken where Cari greeted us and took us home to Georg in Helldahl for dinner and the night. "Oline" had made it back up from Hidra to Bergen safely, with just the two Gundersens and Stein as crew. It took them four days and four nights, drifting and getting tideswept, and ended up with them flagging down a speedboat to tow them the last bit into Bergen. Since being towed in to Haugesund that day in hard weather, "Oline" has opened up and is leaking a lot more than she used to.

Next day we contacted Trevor, who invited us to sail with him on "Blid" on an overnight trip to an annual party twelve miles north of Bergen. The next morning we prepared to sail and set off, towing "Oline".

It was a big drunken party, and we arrived too late for the folk dancing and most of the music, but I got to make an appearance in my "traditional" costume of long skirt and embroidered blouse. Mary and I had a good time running around. When she fell asleep David and I danced.

Had a nice sail and motor back the next morning to meet Turid, and she and Trevor sailed away on their summer holiday to Aetvoll.

David and Mary went out for pizza, and came back in time to help hoist the new mast for "Albatross" up into the naust. Curtiss showed up to help too, so we talked to him for awhile. He is about to migrate south to Stavanger for the winter, madly fixing up his small snekka to make the journey in, since "Svanen" is already down in Stavanger.

On Monday morning Mary and David left for the airport. David never returned that night. I ate bread and cheese and cried myself to sleep.

When I got up next morning, I figured he had gone to visit Curtiss, so I went to the boatyard where Curtiss works. He hadn't seen David, but told me that the airport had been shut down because of fog. In the afternoon, David came back. He and Mary had been put up in a hotel for the night because of the fog delay.

I'm sure Mary felt that was the best part of the trip! We miss her now, although it turned out to be a difficult summer with her. Not that we are in the habit of having easy summers! She has been a real hand full. I guess she is outgrowing the boat and the thrills of camping, so she clashed a lot with us and I never felt like we got as close as we did other summers. t's still good to see her even though we fought like wildcats.I [Ed. note: On arriving back in the States and being asked by her grandmother what she would like for dinner, Mary was quoted as saying, "Anything. As long as it's not FISH!"]

We got up early next morning to haul in our net, which contained two codfish and four good sized pollock, three night's dinner. Blackberries are starting to ripen, blueberries and raspberries still going strong. But the sun sets earlier and earlier.

We said a quick goodbye to Cari and took a bus and ferry to Rosendahl, where "Gladhval" was out on the slip. We had arranged with Jeff Lane, the owner, to help him for the haul out period. Jeff is a fellow Yankee, a tall, brawny, dark haired fellow with an easy smile and lots of wanderer's tales to tell. We spent three days at the very scenic boatyard amidst mountains and fjords, and had a good time: managed to get quite a bit of work done for him- he had been working alone- with songs and philosophical discussions throughout the day and night.

Left early yesterday morning and took buses and ferries to Stavanger. There were no good bus connections to Grimstad then so we called Curtiss's family. They took us in and gave us all the home comforts plus blueberry pie and a meal, and drove us to the train this morning.

We were a bit concerned about having left "Manza" so long. Train ride, then bus from Kristiansand. Passing through more of the beautiful countryside, hardly able to see it because we're so preoccupied with the future, the traveling, our own problems this summer with love and jealousy.

"Manzanita" is fine. I packed her fuller than she's ever been with all my clothes and books and finery that I retrieved from Bergen, and we rowed against the wind to our old campsite. Sunshine, clear sky, eating canned peaches with evaporated milk.

So far, so good.

Aug. 30

Ensconced in the Gulbrandsen's summer cabin, or "hytta" [hut], "waiting for the wind to change", as we did last autumn in Sandviken , I'm reminded. Our host is old Mr. Gulbrandsen, Oyvind's father, 80, who cant hear anything. We write out messages to him in our garbled Norwegian. Six good fish in the net this morning.

There is a book here, "Skjaergards Parken", about the "Fant Folk", the sea gypsies of Norway who had disappeared by the 1950's.

Here's an excerpt:

"By daybreak they were by Homorside, and they went in through Dybesunde and anchored up in their old spot. The wind was more easterly now, a sign of sunny weather, and Faendrik had thought to go further, just after he slept a little. Helesoya stood ahead of him, that could still occasionally yield a bit of lobster, but everyone asked him after the midday meal if the Alkene [?] had come there. That he could not stand for, and so he stayed put for some days before he went on. Although he had only a pram, a pram is a good sea boat, and floats about like a bowl on the water, and besides, he had Josepha to row.

Josepha sat and plunked herself down on the bench, her small perplexed eyes going round. It was so dismal, she felt, to sit here shut in by the bad weather, and hear how it stormed around the ship. She wanted to go up in the fresh air, it was so stuffy and close in the cabin, she could not breathe properly. It was so full of cooking smoke down there, she felt she would stifle. But it blew so cruelly on deck and so Faendrik would not have the hatch open. Faendrik lay mostly on his back in the bunk and was ia frightful humor and railed against the world and everything. Bad weather made him quite sick, it was like a foretaste of autumn's hardships, of the winter's bitter trouble and wretchedness, of that which awaited all poor travellers when summer was past."

A South Norway woman remembers the Fant:

"With the summer followed the Fant boats. They often went two or three together and always lay in their own old mooring places. So the women came in a bunch with the children round them and sold tinware the men had made. The women had a big red pocket on their skirts. These were decorated with mother of pearl buttons in different sizes and shapes. Here they kept their pipes, tobacco, and purse, and surely other strange things. On their backs they would carry a child. If it was quite small it was carried in front. They begged for anything they could get. Mother gave them mostly some bread, and so they drank coffee, took a smoke fo their crooked pipes, thanked her for the food, and said "God bless you, woman.'

One time there was a young girl who nudged up to her mother, and the mother unbuttoned her blouse so the poor girl went in and drank, holding fast. 'But fie, for shame, how old are you?' Mother said. 'Five', answered the girl, stuck her head back in and drank further."

Now we face, like the Fant, the annual autumn limbo. Spending the winter in Norway is a distinct possibility, and an acceptable one. We have enough friends, connections, and a possibility of work, so feel fairly confident of survivng here . Friends in Bergen have offered David housebuilding work, but he is anxious to visit the US and see his family. We'll try our luck with ships first and then face perhaps selling the boat [I hope not] or leaving it here pending our return to Norway

But first we're going to try hitchhiking, boat and all. The ship which leaves Kristiansand every month or so with a cargo of nickel for Baltimore is our first prospect, so we are scheming for them to transport "La Manzanita" as deck cargo. Or we might get a short ride to Stavanger or Goteborg where there's more ship traffic. Or a ride to England? Who knows. The only certain fact is that winter is coming fast. We plan to sail 30 miles back the way we came from, to the port of Kristiansand which is the busiest shipping center hereabouts. There we will accost passing vessels to try to convince them to take us and/or the boat along. If they can only take the boat, we might follow by air. It's all completely unkown and we have no idea at all whether this will work out. With any luck, we'll be home before too long. Other than being near our families,The US itself seems mildly horrifying even from a distance. However, the decision will soon make itself.

September 5

At the Kristiansand Public Library. It's our third day of living in the library. It's warm and comfortable and has books in English and a white tiled bathroom with hot running water.

The summer is over. There has been so much wind here that we've done almost no rowing all season. To sum things up, we covered 250 miles in the boat, met a lot of nice people, and ate a lot of fish.

On September 1st, we woke up early at the Gulbrandsen's hut, and the wind had gone north. It was a little foggy. We left. The old man had fallen asleep again after David had startled him earlier, discovering him peeing into the kitchen sink.

The old man doesn't want winter to come, and neither do we.

We spent the day in one last glorious downwind run, 27 quick miles to Kristiansand: racing through the Blinnlea, in and out between islands and through channels, with a fresh breeze and the sun shining, over Korsfjord and into the harbor. A big blue bulk carrier was tied up at the ominous "Falcon Bridge Nikkelverk", the nickel smelting plant . We tied up astern of this ship, the "Falcon", went aboard and spoke to the captain. He had no objection to taking our boat across the ocean on his, but said he had to clear it with his boss in the office, who will be at work on Monday. In the meantime we are camped beside the nickel factory wondering what they put in the water to make it such a peculiar color.

So the weekend intervened. Yesterday we were guests of Oyvind's brother and sister, Vivi and Ryder Gundersen, and they fed us ice cream and cream cakes and drove us to see the sights of Kristiansand, the Folk museum and the town park.

This morning we got Mr. Flagstad at bay in his lair. He was noncommittal and said he would have to talk to the captain about it. Our fingers are crossed. We learn more tomorrow. The ship leaves day after tomorrow.

We've been living aboard our yacht at an abandoned little quay behind the Nikkelwerks. Rain all last night, soggy sleeping bags, me getting over a cold. We are poised on the edge of this possibility. If it happens, it is really too good to be true and must be accepted calmly. But if not, the chilly winds blow. "That which awaits all poor travelers when summer is passed", indeed. But I think we did well to go directly to the captain first.

Each time we go in for an interview at the office we are one day greasier, our "good" clothes one day more wrinkled and dirty. Can't put up the facade of well being much longer.

Sept. 7

Oh Lordy! We and boat are going back to the USA, lambs to the slaughter. Yesterday we went back to the Falconbridge agent, who directed us to the Einar Rasmussen company, the ship's agent. So we went there, up through the flashy lobby full of models of oil rigs, up the marble staircase, to see Mr. Elieson.

He turned out to be the nicest of all, and he said we could put the boat on "Falcon". In the end he took us home for coffee and we ended up spending the night, a chilly autumn night, clear and breezy, on sofas in his house. The "Manze" is going to Baltimore and they are not charging money to do it.

This morning we stowed and cleaned the boat, then went for a conference with the skipper, Mr. Kjosvedt. They will be in Baltimore on September 19 at 2 pm, and we'd better be too, or in the words of the captain "you will never see your boat again."In a couple of hours we will go alongside "Falcon" for the loading.

Sept 8

We are at Curtiss and Ellen's house out on Steinsoyholmen, a small island in Stavanger harbor.

Yesterday at about noon, we rowed over to the "Falcon", having rigged up slings to hook up to the crane, and packed our bags. I went on board "Falcon" while David rowed around in range of the crane. Soon enough the crane whined into operation, picked David and "Manza" up, and David hopped out onto the deck while the boat was lowered into the cavern of the forward hold.

We climbed down the steep ladder into the hold and got in the way while the crew lashed her down, padded with an airbag, covered the boat, and closed up the cargo hatch We climbed out, picked up our bags and departed .

We found a piece of cardboard, made a sign saying STAVANGER, and stood by the side of the road.

We got many short rides along that beautiful road, heading north over country we had traversed by boat and train. Got to Stavanger by eight or nine and prevailed on Curtiss' parents again, his mother, Grace, angelic as ever, offering us showers, food, a washing machine. This morning she took us around town to see a vista of the city on top of a hill, and to a reconstructed stone age farm: long, low sod covered buildings with stone walls. Inside one, a central fireplace, a loom with clay weights, sheepskins on a wooden bed platform around the walls.

We found Curtiss at work in a boatyard, where else, and arranged to meet him later on. Spoke to some people who are fixing up an old ship to take to the US and Caribbean as a missionary ship, "La Gracia". "Where did you find the ship?" "Oh, it used to be a ferry up in Tromso." Turns out it is the sister ship to "Polar Trans", on which "Manza" began her lifeboat career. Their two big lifeboats , wooden and double ended and very familiar looking, were down on the quay.

Curtiss and Elin have just come down from Bergen in Curtiss's newly fixed up snekka with its old rattletap semi-diesel shaking the whole boat. They brought us out to their island in the snekka. "Svanen" is out here too. Elin is pregnant. They have rented a big old three story house. There's only one other resident on the island, an old woman. A bridge connects the island to another bigger one, to which a ferry runs. But they can commute by snekka. To signal the ferry to stop here, you hoist up a signal on the quay.

September 9

On board the good ship "Venus" [not the one in the bawdy song ], a ferry about to embark for Newcastle, our passports stamped as leaving Norway. For once we are only four days lapsed on our entry, over the three month limit. It is overcast and raining. We have said goodbye to all the Andersens. Mrs. Anderson fed us a huge meal all together, and we went to see an exhibit opening of photographs by Elin's father. More goodbyes. The sadness of superficial goodbyes fades into the excitement of being on the road again. A new country. A short term goal. Risks: hitchhiking, standby tickets, a deadline. The engines just rumbled deep down below this deck, which is set up with rows of seats to resemble an airplane.

Sept. 10

Still on the ferry. I dreamed about harpooning fish. David also dreamed of giant fish, dark, with huge winglike fins and horns.

Sept 11

Gatwick Airport, London, 7:00 a.m. We left the ferry, took a bus to Newcastle town, stopped long enough to eat fish and chips, and then took a fast bus to London for ten pounds. Gray weather, pouring rain. Arriving at Victoria bus station at 10:30 pm, we tried to avail ourselves of the house of our friend Jude from Mallorca. Managed to contact her mother, but she had guests and no room for us. So we took the last bus out to Gatwick, arriving near midnight, owl-eyed with exhaustion.

We found the deserted People's Express and British Airways standby desks, signed ourselves on as numbers thirteen and fourteen, and then found sanctuary in the airport chapel where we slept for six hours behind the white curtain at the altar, blissfully undisturbed.

Up early, the airport already crowded and bustling at 6:00 am. There was a huge line at the People's Express waiting for the window to open. When it did and the names are called out, we were given our little official numbers and will report back in a couple of hours. The flight is at 10:30 am and we may be on it. Nonstop to Newark!

September 16

Sure enough, we were able to catch that flight. We had very little food with us and couldn't afford the airline caterer's prices, but were saved from starvation by a ham sandwich appearing from a few seats back from " a lady who's a vegetarian". A bad movie was shown, which I watched while listening to the faint sound of the speakers in the armrest.

We started getting glimpses of the east coast. Landed in Newark and deplaned into a blast of scorching air, humidity, hot wind, 90 degree heat. We turned all of our currency into dollars and waited for a cheap bus into the city.

We went bus to Port Authority, subway to Grand Central, and train to Stamford, Connecticut where Dave's Mom, Kay, fetched us, after much confusion as we were waiting for her on the wrong platform. We were in a daze. Home to the comforts of their house, David's father Harold, David's Grandmother. I called my parents. Everyone including us flabbergasted and elated.

Since then we have visited many of David's friends, and been fed several deluxe dinners. The affluence around here is a shock. So are the automobiles. We're not used to it anymore. On our second day here we were in a minor car wreck with Harold.

David worked yesterday and is working today for a moving company. Tomorrow, my friend Emma, a good sport if there ever was one, is arriving and will drive us to Baltimore to meet the "Falcon" to retrieve "Manzanita" in the nick of time.

David seems to be in shock about being here. I don't blame him. I feel it too but somehow it hasn't hit me yet. We've filled out another UN job application for the South Pacific, now that we have a return address. Food, rent, everything is cruelly expensive here in the soft green hills of New England. We are feeling around for places to stay for the winter and job possibilities. There's some talk of Mary coming to live with us, of it being all right with her mother. The boat should arrive in two or three days. One thing at a time.


Translations of three newspaper clippings from Norwegian papers about our strange journey

From the "Agder" Flekkefjords Tidende Friday July 22, 1983


Photo caption: David, Mary and Sarah partly hitch-hiked with big ships, rowing and sailing along foreign coasts

Sarah Underhill and David Hval, from the USA, have "hitch hiked", sailed and rowed from the Caribbean to Spain and from there via France to Bergen and finally to Rasvag! There they now take part in "Coast" magazine's big meeting. Their means of travel is a sixteen foot lifeboat, built in Grimstad many years ago, which they came over from the Caribbean with two and a half years ago.

"We got hold of the boat on a cargo ship which earlier had been a ferry in Tromso. From the Caribbean we "hitched" with a a 30 meter yacht over to Mallorca. From there we sailed to Gibraltar and "hitched" over to France. There we found a pair of Norwegians in an oselvar [traditional Norwegian small boat] on a row and sail trip to the Mediterranean. We came further north, hitch-hiked to Goteborg and harbored at last in Bergen. From Bergen we have now taken two weeks time to get to Rasvag, " Sarah says.

All this has not happened at once. The traveling has taken place from May to September, with daughter Mary on board for the summer holidays.

David, with Norwegian antecedents from the Bergen area, works as a carpenter on ships.

They have sewed the sails themselves. The little lifeboat holds all the necessary things, provisions etc. A little tent can be set up on the boat, but the family prefers to land and put up a land tent on the beach when it gets dark.

After Rasvag they will set course for Grimstad. There the family will try to find something of the boat builder.

Clipping number 2 [ the original clipping has been lost, but one Norwegian remarked about the photo of us that we all looked as if we were nervous about running into the immigration authorities]


Photo caption: On the way towards Grimstad, Sarah, David and Mary have taken themselves round half the world to come to Norway. The boat they bought in the Caribbean was built here 50 to 60 [sic] years ago.

It has taken over 50 [sic] years and countless sea miles, but now the little sailboat "La Manzanita" is finally on its way home, to Grimstad. Two Americans have rowed and sailed the sixteen foot long lifeboat, which now lies anchored at Hidra to be with "Coast Magazine"'s boat meeting. The little wooden boat has perhaps the strangest story of all the boats that lie in Rasvag harbor.

It was as long as three years ago that Sarah and David bought the boat for $1200 on an island in the Caribbean. Earlier they had come as crew on various pleasure boats in southern harbors from the east coast of the US. With the little boat they finally had their own keel under them, although "La Manzanita" maybe was not such a high performing sailboat. When they bought it they found out that it had been a lifeboat on a ferry in Tromso before it got to the other side of the Atlantic.

Since then, the two of them have gone with the wooden boat and "hitched" over the world's harbors. La Manzanita has found deck space on big cargo ships and they have been passengers over the bigger stretches of water. Shorter distances they have rowed and sailed like a sort of ocean vagabonds. A tent on board and another to use on land have been their home, and odd jobs in harbor towns have supported the pair.

"We don't need much, and we have managed to get along," says David.

The travelers have gone from the USA to the Mediterranean, and via Gibraltar to France and Goteborg. Last autumn they hitched with a Norwegian cargo ship to Bergen, and on a rainy day in October they came in to the west Norway town- in an open boat.

Now they go to the last part of the trip for the two and David's daughter, twelve year old Mary, who comes along for the sailing season in summer vacation. Two weeks before the boat meeting on Hidra, they set out from Bergen, and have rowed and sailed down along the coast. Next week they will sail out to reach Grimstad.

"For that's where the boat was built, " says David. " A little copper plate in the boat's stern tells that it was built by Vikkelins Boat Builders and has the number 844. "We don't know when it was built, but people here at the boat meeting say that it may have been sometime in the 20's. We will see the place where the boat which has been our home for the past few years was built."

Grimstad Adresjtidende", Thu. Aug 18, 1983

"We will see where our boat was built"


Photo caption: A spry 30 years old, states the boat builder Erling Torvolt after a visit from the sixteen foot long gig which was built in Vikkelin in 1950. On board David, Mary [12] and Sarah from the USA.

A burning wish to see where their precious sixteen foot gig came from has led David, Sarah, and David's twelve year old daughter Mary from the Caribbean Sea to Grimstad. Three years ago they bought the discarded lifeboat or ship's launch from a ship in the Caribbean and got themselves a new life. By this means they travelled to Norway and Grimstad, specifically Vikkelin, and decided to see where the boat was built.

"It happens once in awhile that people come back with a boat they have bought to see where it was built. But these are certainly the most long traveling visitors we have ever had," says Erling Torvolt, who informs the proud boat owners that it was his uncle Nils Torvolt who built the boat 33 years ago.

On Monday, they docked at Erling Torvolt's quay at the Vikkelin boatshop, and Torvolt, with the help of an old book, immediately confirmed that "La Manzanita" , as the Americans have named the boat, was built in Vikkelin in 1950.

"We built a good many boats of that type, and most were used as launches for big tankers. But how exactly this boat, # 844, got to the Caribbean, I really don't know, " says boatbuilder Erling Torvolt.

We should now note that David, Sarah and Mary have not brought "La Manzanita" over the Atlantic themselves. David tells how they brought the sixteen-footer to Norway.

"It all began when Sarah and I worked on board a Dutch cargo ship, 'Polar Trans', which goes between Puerto Rico and the West Indies with fruit and vegetables. 'Polar Trans' had previously been a ferry in Tromso before the Dutchmen took it over and brought it to the Caribbean. 'La Manzanita' functioned as a lifeboat on board, but the captain was bitten by the 'plastic bug' and wanted to fit out his ship with a more modern lifeboat. That's where we come in. We got a position for ourselves and the boat on a big pleasure boat which was going to Mallorca, where we lived for a year. We worked there, and took long and short sail trips around Mallorca and Menorca in our free time. Last year we sailed from Mallorca to Gibraltar, quite a tough trip. From Gibraltar we 'hitchhiked' with a cargo boat to France, where we sailed around in the canals for a month. After that we used the same method to get to Goteborg, and later to Bergen last autumn. Early in the year we began our trip down the Norwegian coast, and in July we participated in a national meeting of old boats on Hidra. From there we took our time before coming to our final goal for the holiday, Grimstad.

Satisfied with what you've seen in Vikkelin? "It's fantastic. This is how boats should be built, they should not be stamped out of a mold. Wooden boats have a heart," state the American enthusiasts, and Erling Torvolt can't help but feel flattered.

David is from New England in the US, but Sarah comes from California. David has his roots in Norway, and now he will sail "La Manzanita" further to Oslo to try and trace his distant relatives. But twelve year old Mary must go back to school in the US; she is only with her father for the sailing trip during summer vacation.

Further plans? " We go where fate leads us", say David and Sarah, who don't hide the fact that they are genuine sea-gypsies.

"We will soon begin to look for a ship which can take us with it back to the USA, but if it takes a year to find one, it makes no difference. We would be glad to see more of Norway, especially north Norway, says David, who will try to get some money by selling the story of "La Manzanita" to an American magazine for wooden boat enthusiasts, "Wooden Boat Magazine."

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