Tramping with Polstjerna

Under opprydding fant jeg et notat fra turen og også noen gamle bilder (TC tramping in Tromsø with Polstjerna 17th to 20th June 1999). På en clukveld for ikke så lenge siden kom jeg i snakk med Arnoldus og pratet om en tur vi hadde i 1999 til Tromsø hvor Travellers´Club reddet M/S Polstjerna fra å synke. Det viste seg at Arnoldus har også i senere tid vært med på a redde M/S Polstjerna.

Arnoldus beretter:

Det vil fremgå av Alans innlegg at driften av M/S Polstjerna som «turistskip» efter hvert ikke var bærekraftig. Eieren, Arktisk Forening i Tromsø, besluttet derfor i 1999 at båten skulle settes på land for å bevares for kommende generasjoner. Foreningen igangsatte så et meget omfattende og langvarig plan- og finansieringsarbeid under ledelse av undertegnede, som efter 10 år lyktes med å landsette båten i dokk med glass overbygg i Tromsø havn. Anlegget, som i 2010 ble overført til Universitetet i Tromsø, kostet 17 millioner kroner, og er sammen med båten beskrevet i boken: A.S. Blix. Arktisk Forening Tromsø 1947 – 2017. Boken kan kjøpes for NOK 250 ved henvendelse til forfatteren.

Arnoldus Schytte Blix 1139

The urge to tramp was upon us. We had waited patiently for spring to complete her cycle and summer to come with her comforting warmth, countless hours of organising were coming to an end.

A fine group of men had signed their readiness to participate, or was it merely their inbred desire to be on the road again? The wish to sleep in the rough, to eat of what ever availed itself and to share the yarns of comradeship.

The inspiration for a trip to Tromsø came from a successful trip to the Lofoton Islands a few summers ago. There we had chartered a fishing boat and had a whale (!) of a time exploring those beautiful islands. It was thus that our trusted member, Lars Andreassen, vowed to organise a similar trip to his beloved Tromsø.

The infamous polar vessel “Polstjerna” stood lonely and forlorn at her moorings alongside the Arctic Museum. She had battered many an Arctic storm but her solid oak hull had repeatedly returned crew and cargo of seal meat safely to her home port of Tromsø. She looked old and majestic but we fear she is on her last legs.

Seafaring Tramps

Twenty two tramps gathered in her cargo hold on the evening of 17th June - the smell of seal meat was pungent in our nostrils - the welcoming committee did their bit and we toasted each other in correct naval fashion with a shot of rum all the way from Barbados. We were given shore leave to explore the secrets of “The Paris of the North” with clear instructions that Polstjerna would sail on the morning tide. The last tramps were winched aboard in the early hours.

Our tramps awoke from their blissful sleep to the swell of the ocean and smell of crispy bacon and eggs. As is popular with the upper class on safari in Kenya we had secured the professional services of our gifted member-cook Tore, well assisted by Esten. What luxury to cruise the northern fjords and to enjoy familiar home cooking!! On this Friday we journeyed to Skibotn, in the upper reaches of Lyngenfjord, and were blessed with fair weather and good fishing en route. The scenery was delightful and sightings of sea eagles completed our longings for nature.

Friday evening and Saturday morning we spent in Skibotn. Now Skibotn is a small sleepy town that tries to awaken once a year when it hosts an annual market. The scene is complete with invading hordes of Finns and Swedes that come to sample the atmosphere. We were there to honour this particular occasion but the town never really awoke. As most of our tramps were trying to nurse headaches of varying degrees it didn’t really matter!

We sailed on the afternoon tide heading out to the coast again. A brief stop at Havnes to view a quaint hamlet complete with fish processing plant. The owner of this hamlet had arranged some seal meat for our culinary exploration. Tore did his bit and seal meat was sampled by us all for the first time. Interesting, different, were the polite remarks of the day.

We found a nice harbour for Saturday night. Three houses and a grocery store. Who cares, we were self- contained. Gallons of fresh fish soup and wine were procured and we waited. A blue window had opened in the northern skies and by mathematic prediction …. That is if we were lucky… the sun would honour us with its presence at the stroke of midnight. Sure enough from midnight to 0100 am rays of treasured light warmed our happy souls.

The engineer was a happy soul as well, at least he was very happy when last seen at 0400 am Sunday morning in the presence of fellow tramps that were yarning and wining him. He wasn’t smiling at 0800 am.

Sunday morning, that headache again…. and the Skipper ranting and raving for all Able Bodied Seamen to man the pumps. Polstjerna had weathered many a storm, but now on this fine morning water was pouring into her engine room flooding the engine. To cut a long story short we saved the vessel and sailed to Tromsø a few hours behind schedule.

There are two tramps that need a mention. Both men participated to their fullest, they did their share of washing up and other chores. Although quarters were cramped and primitive there was never a complaint. They were exceptionally good company and they are both over 80 years of age. Nicolay and Sven – thank you for joining us. I am sure we all wish to enjoy life as well as you do when we get to where you are.

A special thanks to Willy Jensen, our skipper, Lars our homesick technical director, and our newly made friends at Artisk Forening.

M/S Polstjerna bevart for evig tid.

#Polstjerna #Tromsø #1Public

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