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When is it that we leave ??
-- January to May 2018  --
Clearly defined seasons are great. There is something fascinating in feeling the Earth oscillating around its vertical axis under these high latitudes. The almost endless days at the end of June progressively become for 5 short hours of a pale dim light in December. Not enough to get warm, temperatures drop, the boats climb up on land, the sea freezes, it snows.

It snows, it snows, it snows.

Cubic meters upon cubic meters.
It’s our sixth winter in Norway, and in the previous years spring clearly came in March, allowing us to start working on Saltimbanque, sometimes between 2 snowstorms, but with a decent temperature.

But this year we are very eager to get ready to leave, and of course it snows 3 to 4 times more than normally al winter long, then in March the cold settles in to maintain a situation pretty much adverse to mechanics and aluminium painting. April 3rd, back from the Easter break, it is still -8°C in the morning…

Nice, they shoveled the snow off the pontoons!
Conditions not compatible with sanding machines, but perfect for administrative formalities! The main challenge of this trip lies in getting a visa to visit Saint-Petersburg. For those interested, here is – in the right order – the different steps to follow:

-    Get an insurance, which covers the boat in Russia. We have discovered that many French insurances are only valid up to 60°N, and have no intention of delivering exemptions for the Baltic Sea. Luckily, Norwegians are less afraid on cold remote places… so we switched to “Sparebanken”

-    In order to get a Russian visa, you need to be officially invited by a local yacht club. In Saint-Petersburg, one man runs the show. His name is Vladimir Ivankiv (vladimir@sailrussia.spb.ru). Efficient, friendly, fluent in English. We received the invitation in a few days.

-    With Vladimir’s invitation in hand, you can go to the embassy to apply for the visa. You need passport pictures and classical forms that prove that you have a travel insurance. In our case, the DNB Saga Insurance was enough for both of us.

In the end, this all lasted a good two months, with the most complicated (surprisingly enough) being to get the insurance.

Readings from the weather station at Bygdøy,  -16°C to +18°C in less than a month
 -4°C to +18°C  in 4 days !!
Then, like every year, spring finally comes in. Like every year, it’s a sudden change of seasons. On the 14th April, we are in shorts and t-shirt and getting tanned under a warm sun! Only a few weeks left to complete Saltimbanque’s preparations. 
In addition to our favorite yearly artistic activity (painting the hull – in a different shade of blue every season), we work on the engine compartment: new isolation layers, new power cables, new tying up of the electrical cables.

And then, there is the usual maintenance operations : engine, deck paintings and door varnish, small pulleys and cleats to change, a new lifeline (we don’t trust the old one after years exposed to UV radiations), 20 meters of new chain to replace the rustiest 20 meters of the existing chain…

Only addition to our equipment, made to accommodate the high latitudes and cold temperatures: a small heater!! Small boat = small heater. We hope it will suffice, with rather pleasant temperatures in the Baltic Sea in the summer. And we always have woolen hats and pullovers…

Antifouling with obstacles - slippery obstacles...

The boat is back in the water on May 3rd. It sounds late according to European standards – but we were amongst the first ones out for the season. No sooner is the hull wet than the deck gets wet as well. It feels so good to rinse off the mud and dust of the winter.

Saltimbanque in great company
You see, Saltimbanque needs to be all clean and ready for the goodbye party we are planning to host for our Oslo friends on the following Sunday. The weather too is in a bright shining mood. We are happy to hoist the flags collected during our previous trips and put as much color as possible everywhere in the mast.

Our friends are happy. We discuss Finnish archipelagos and French cakes recipes. At that point, a rib comes alongside on the next berth. Onboard are several young men and one clearly more senior. The latter says “hi” and asks – in Norwegian – what is happening. We don’t really understand the question and let them pass, before realizing: this guy with his life jacket and white hat is Harald! Harald the Fifth, King of Norway. Nothing less. The King is fond of sailing, and he owns a beautiful wooden 8mR Sira in the harbor. In the same harbor as Saltimbanque. And so, the King comes by and says hi on his way back from his boat. Amazing…

Once our guests (famous or not) are gone, the final sprint can start: we need to close off some professional matters, tidy and clean the house. Friends will live at our place for a month, so it needs to be in a decent shape. Also need to pack our stuff for 4 months and top up on food.

Finally, the weather forecast. Hopefully warm and sunny. And the wind is forecasted variable, with thermal breeze from the South. That is to say, right in the face. We are looking to leave, as always, against the wind, or under engine power...

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Kariine - 23/05/2018 22:48:17
Ohé du bateau ! Suivre votre périple, ça me manquait. Alors, zou, du beau, du neuf, de l'aventure... et en plus certains pays qui me font rêver mais que je n'ai pas encore eu la chance de découvrir. Je suis encore toute étonnée que vous ayez tenu 5 ans à terre :)
Biz les amies !

Marcello... - 15/05/2018 10:02:09
quel plaisir de mettre tous les matins, ma veste de quart et mes bottes avant de me mettre devant l'ordi pour suivre votre périple !!! Profitez bien... j'espère qu'il vous reste un peu de place sur Saltibanque, car je vous envoie un kit bag plein de bises pour votre voyage !! Marcello

SuDad - 14/05/2018 20:11:16
Le grand retour de Saltimbanque !!! TaDah TaDah! Tout propre, tout chouchouté par Camille, comme il se doit, anti-fouling et tout. La grande aventure, par la face Nord, cette fois. On est parti, sans violence apparemment, tranquillement, le temps de faire connaissance du milieu, de la température, des poissons, toutes ces sortes de choses.
C'est sympa de nous faire rêver à nouveau, sur un exotisme radicalement différent. On va retrouver avec délices les compte-rendus et les photos. Bonne route, rendez-vous à la prochaine escale. Grosses bises à tes équipières.

JLG/V&V - 13/05/2018 08:02:59
Bonjour du Pouldu. Et ravi de vous savoir reparties ! Un Saltimbanque à St. Petersbourg,çà, c'est classieux… Suis preneur de vos bords Baltes (racontés à la Peer Gynt ?)

Nadia - 11/05/2018 18:15:22
Nous voilà pressés de lire les nouvelles aventures de Saltimbanque qui pr le moment doit être bien fier de son si prestigieux voisin!

la mamou - 11/05/2018 16:15:00
voila qui a l'air de commencer sous les meilleurs auspices et sous la protection d'Harald ;-)

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