lauantai 5. maaliskuuta 2016

Winter visit in Lofot, Norway 2016

I had a pretty incredible good fortune with weather, I got a number of brilliant landscape pictures only with my cell camera. Yes defenetly Lofoten is worth of visit especially in winter. Because if you are lucky the snow scenery can be painted white in an amazing way. Even the sun was low, with this winter landscape. Plus couple of calm days, a shooting succeeded can be possible even for me. Thursday morning 7:00 we left Ballstad "rörby", a cabin kind of old fishing accommodation which is usually built on top of the water. Those "rörby" things are sufficient here.
Rörby cottages, just 200m from our "rörby" place

Ragnar Lothbrok was here, just outside from our "Rörby" cottage.

We had breakfast in the bakery of Svolvaer torget 23, which employs one  Finnish baker, Anna. So, we got the service up in the Finnish language. Everyone here speaks good English and of course Sweden.
"Google street" gave this picture of this cafe-bakery:,14.564605,3a,75y,52h,92.16t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s6T3OGipFiEPx8Nt1OfhX6A!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

The bread is baked in the morning and filled with cheese, ham, etc. just in front of your eyes. You will see how is done and all ingredient are fresh.

Now start to be time to continue our journey towards Narvik, where we supposed to meet Kjell, Petri's old diving buddy, one of the greatest diving legends I have ever met.  He used to have in Leknes Town a "guesthouse" named Titanic with bar and disco. It was decorated with different artefacts from shipwrecks. These objects are associated with a lot of interesting stories. The place is also known for many Finnish divers. Just want to mentioned that these wrecks that Kjell found, he had the ownership by the Norwegian law, so wreck robbery was not an issue. Petri was in the 1980s working to Kjell collecting precisely these objects. Now some of the items have been donated to the new coming Maritime Museum in Narvik, which will open maybe in 2017.

The Titanic guesthouse is now a wreck, no accion. Cold out and inside

The door to Disco is well closed

Later weather was not the same as the few previous day, the snow was falling and the stunning scenery was no longer in sight., as was before.

When we arrived to the last tunnel which is the gateway to the Lofot Islands, the sky open once more in all its glory.  Lofot  has some dozen tunnels and bridges mostly done after Norway found oil. At the end of the trip I also learned a little more to regulate the mobile camera , unfortunatly a little too late, after those amazing landscapes and weather were gone. This last picture from Lofot is done with higest resolution. The tunnel is just on the leftside.

This is from the mouth of the tunnel that separates Lofot. At the other side of the tunnel was snowing nonstop until I was back home in Finland
The journey continued towards Narvik, where we arrived at noon. There we visit in Kjell's house a couple of hours. I had met him first time in 1998 near the Gardemon airport, where he opened another hotel after selling the Titanic gesthouse. Kjell had also a bad diving accident soon after my first meeting with him, and now he is pretty much in a wheelchair. Walking is a bit tricky.

I must tell you, Kjell had a bad habit emptying the divingbottles beneath the surface then goes straight to the boat to pick up new dive gear package, and then go as fast as possible back to dive to start making decompression . This is ok if you know what are you doing, but extremely dangerous as well, even if you are an expert.  Petri told me that once Kjell had drawn a lifting bag to a liftable bronze item and the depth was 60 or 80m (-Nobody really remember the depth) and fill the lifting bag with last air from divingbottles . He was aware that when he is rising, the air on his lungs and bottles will expands so that he can still give couple breaths and then on the surface will pick up another bottle package and going down one more time to make decompression, as he used to do.

One day Kjell was diving with friends, with whom had never dived before. They were apparently quite terrified of Kjell's diving style, alone, up to 60m deep with just pure air , no mixed gases and only  enougth amount for diving once, leaving decompression stops for the next divingbottle packet.
When Kjell had surfaced after a "nice dive" with empty bottles, exchanged fast to a new dive bottle package and quickly jumped back into the water intended to start those decompression stops from some 30-40m. His friends get terrified and pulled him from divebottle connected lifeline back on the boat were he was forced to be surfaced! And did not let him anymore go back in to water to perform his decompression stops.
Well, after that treatment he knew what was the prize of decompression sickness, and a wheelchair beging to keep company to him since then. You should always think about what kind of friends you are diving with, they where good friends but not in the diver scene, it really matters to know your diving buddies.

About Kjell is possible write a lot. In this trip I heard old story how he lift a tractor from 52m water depth from one lake, in winter time with some old parachute type liftingbags. I had heard this before, but now there was one small little funny detail. There was a lot fun laughing at this with Kjell's house in Narvik.

Normally Kjell used dive in the ocean, which in Norway is always free from ice cover. But in winter lakes are frozen and it makes it like cave diving, where is really needed the lifeline. Especially in the lakes where there is very lausy visibility and in this condition divers very easily get lost. That's why is vital to connect a lifeline between the diver and surface. It is the cheapest life insurance to divers everywhere. If "what ever" happen during diving, on the open sea diver can just rise up and he is on the surface. But under icecovered lake or inside the cave. There is a cover stopping the diver. So with lifeline you can find back to the surface and you will be alive.
When Kjell came to make salvage operation to this tractor, on lake where the ice is covering everything. He just put diving gears on and just jumped without further thinking on the hole and dive immediately to the bottom 50m down, without a lifeline!! How to hell he was thinking to find his way back? The visibility is not the same as on the ocean, just much more limited and defenetly darker with icecover. However, his equipment immediately start so called "blowing hard" where air from bottles are escaping fast without control and this, forced him to return back to the surface immediately to change the divegears for a new package. Somewhere between this maybe he noticed that the lifeline is missing. Tracktor was just under the hole in the ice and luckily he managed to find his route up.
I was able to talk about this story with 2 friends who were there when all this happened. They were standing on the surface, just looking each other one and learning, thinking that Kjell is "The Man" but not daring or maybe understand to say anything about lifeline to Kjell. Before Kjell returned he said, "Maybe I should have the lifeline today -do we have any?"

Kjell also recalled the problems that he had with those old parachute shaped lifting bags. After they were filled with air, they start to rise up with the tractor. Then reaching the surface liftbags hit the ice, suddenly get again emptied loosing their lifting capacity and tractor again falls down 50m.
5Ton parachute liftingbag working, similar job ongoing in Finland
It happened few times and the tractor got few extra dents. Only way continue, was to cut the ice off from the area where lifting bags are passing to surface.  Then the tractor were able to stay floating in surface and able to be pulled to the shore. But cutting the ice off was a huge job, that came under responsability to one junior diver. Later same man was running several years a diving center in Lofot and he is still living there. The tractor was afterwards fixed, replacing the battery and taking water out from the engine. They told that it start immediately after first try and until now is working in the same fish factory.

We were staying in Kjell's house until we have to hit the road and continue driving to Finland. About three a clock afternoon we left. We were still able to drive during the daylight up to Kiruna. Distance  from Narvik to Kiruna is some 170km. First part is narrow and that makes it the most difficult part of the route. After Kiruna we decided to check how far are we able to drive before we look some gesthouse, and next morging 7 am I was home. We were both driving, so meanwhile one was resting the other was driving, we change driver few times during the night

Dried cod, ready to deliver to "Portugal", I guess.  That's the only place in the world where I have seen it in every food shop for sale. Smells like bad air freshener