Everyday blog (hverdagsblogg)

October 3rd-9th, 2020: Homeward bound amidst the rugged, though beautiful “Northlandic” landscape

Some glimpses from our sail homeward bound along the coast of Nordland. Can’t but enjoy the rugged silhouettes in the horizon.

Træna dressed in her finest.
“Hestmannen” (The Horse Man, in direct translation) mounted on his horse, pulling his robe behind him.
A view towards Røst and the surrounding Nykene islands.
A glimpse of everday life off the coast of Røst; a fishing vessel heading home with the day’s catch.
From the narrow and rock scattered – though well-marked – passage from Røst out into open water. I (Ingrid) more than anyone am surprised to find the sight of a lantern to be beautiful. 5 years ago I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought, even less taken out the camera to catch the sight. I guess this is what many years at sea can do to you…
Beautiful and rugged Værøy, far south in Lofoten.
“The Lofoten Wall” (Lofotveggen).

Nearly home!!!




September 24th-27th, 2020: Vilja’s “Honorary Crew” sails to Jøa! «Hedersmannskapsseilasen»

We’ve been lucky enough to have more than 50 fine people as guest crew members on board Vilja once or several times during our three year voyage around the World. They have sailed with us either a few hours, some days, weeks or even months.

Along the way it’s felt right to specifically honor a handful of our guest crew members. We have done so by appointing them “Crew of Honor” (Hedersmannskap). At the end of our circumnavigation this exclusive “Crew of Honor” counts 5 people in total. They are the following:

More information about these and many of our other guest crew can be found here:http://www.sailingvilja.no/om-folk-farkost/gjestemannskap/

Ps! Even though not officially elected, there is one person who has definitely qualified as Honorary Ground Crew; Ingrid’s sister Karen Walseth Hara. She’s been our support team on land, both filling the void we left behind among the family, and even joining us along the way to sail in Indonesia. But we have not yet officially established the Honorary Ground Crew status, so therefore only this “honorary mention” at the time being…


But now to the point of this update:THE HONORARY CREW’S SAIL TO JØA!

The (per)Mission was mentioned many months earlier, and officially given a couple of weeks ahead of time: “Vilja and her core crew will be ready to set sail from Trondheim on September 24th, 2020. We (Karen Marie, Jon Petter & Ingrid) are to be considered passengers and want nothing to do with planning or performance. We have two wishes that should be accommodated to the best of your ability: Ingrid wishes to sunbathe on deck (for the first time in three years?!…) and Karen Marie is planning for one of her notorious grand celebrations (confirmation, wedding, or other) for her panda bear teddy. Good luck. See you on September 24th!”



Vilja’s Honorary Crew and Core Crew (or actually Vilja’s Passengers for the occasion) ready to sail! From left to right: Karen Marie, Jon Petter, Audun, Ingrid SM, Geir, Brynhild and Ingrid BU. Unfortunately our fifth honorary crew member, Otto, was not able to join us on this one.

The Weather Gods nearly stopped the whole ordeal, as the weather forecasts predicted spells of gale force winds for the first couple of days. But after repeated and intense discussions and planning, the crew decided to go through with it as planned.

Ingrid’s sister Karen (our Honorary Ground Crew, as noted above), our niece Liv and sailor Guro (previous crew member from Team Atlantic) came to see us off.

(Now let it be known; Vilja has a policy of “What happens on board stays on board.” Still – with consensus; here are some snapshots capturing some of the highlights from what turned out to be an unforgettable “Honorary Crew Sail” (Hedersmannskapsseilas) to Jøa. Ps. Ingrid even got a few moments of sun(bathing) and the panda bear’s wedding was AWESOME!!!)



Departure Grilstad Marina: 24.09.2020 at 18:42.

Arrival Lysøysund: 25.09.2020 at 03:59

Distance: 58.3 nm

(Statistics documented and provided by Geir)

Anchor schnaps upon arrival Lysøysund i mandatory. Ingrid B.U. pops the champagne!



Departure Lysøysund: 25.09.2020 at 14:37.

Arrival Småværet: 25.09.2020 at 00:35

Distance: 48.1 nm

Jon Petter paying tribute to his father, Jon Rikard, as we sail past the family’s cottage at Stokksund.


Anchor schnaps “Viljaita” upon arrival Småværet. (Viljaita = Tequila + orange juice + salt = NOT recommended…)



Departure SMÅVÆRET: 26.09.2020 at 07:23.

Arrival Jøa: 26.09.2020 at 14:26

Distance: 30.9 nm


The Panda Wedding & confirmation!

Remember the Panda Wedding that we (the “passengers”) had specifically requested for the sail? Well, the Crew of Honor didn’t get their honorary crew status for no reason: Not only did they provide a location with calm waters (a stop at Brakstad Havn) – they even provided live music and enough unexpected insanity to bring the party planner (Karen Marie) to a perfect state of amazement. We say no more…

The incredible debut of the even more incredible band «Snacksmix»!

For a taste of Snacksmix, have a look here:Video 26.09.2020, 13 43 14

One thing led to the other, and this is what we ended up with:


And then we arrived at our final destination for the Honorary Crew Sail: Leirvika at Jøa.

Party location: Johalsen (Geir & Mari’s cottage)

Welcome committee: Geir’s wife Mari & daughter Maja

Vilja moored in Leirvika at Jøa. The pier decorated for the occasion. Of course! 😊
A special welcome home present: Mari had handknitted a beautiful sweater in a traditional Norwegian pattern (Staværingstrøye) for Karen Marie. Amazing!
Thanks to these two; Anne Merete Bekkevahr (former colleague of Ingrid & Brynhild) and her father Knut, Brynhild could join us this weekend. They offered to spend a weekend in Jøa and give Brynhild a ride back home to Trondheim early Sunday morning. That enabled her to take part in a christening she wouldn’t want to miss. This is just another reminder of what a treasure good friends are! Anne Merete and Knut came by for a toast on Saturday too. So nice to meet them again after many years.
Let the party begin!

Our eminent crew gave us the most awesome surprise: An “online date” with our idol and fellow sailor; Ragnar Kvam Jr. in person!
A look back one of the many special moments when reading from Ragnar Kvam Jr.’s book «Oppbrudd» (in Eng: «Breaking up»). Here: from the Pacific Ocean crossing in August 2018.

Kvam has been part of our sail and kept us company across many of the World Oceans through the four books he has written about his own circumnavigation. We have read them out loud jointly and silently to ourselves. It was simply unique to be able to share our experiences and memories with this man, who is an idol to us both in sailing, writing and as a person. Fantastic and unforgettable. THANK YOU!

We had some other unexpected greetings online. Beni-boy, our hitchhiker & crew for 5 months from Portugal to Dominica, stopped by to say hello. To our BIG smiles & enjoyment.

Oh wow, what an evening, what a weekend, what a sail!

Thank you! to our Honorary Crew. Can hardly wait till next time we sail together! 🙂




September 7th, 2020: Homecoming!

So we’re finally back where we started! At 10pm on Monday September 7th, Vilja arrived in her homeport from three years ago; Grilstad Marina in Trondheim.

And what a welcome we got! Family and friends were waiting for us on the breakwater at the entrance to the marina, with torches lit, whilst calling and cheering us all the way home: “Welcome Vilja!”

What a gift to be received in such a fantastic way. Thank you so much!

This film was made by our friend in the welcoming committee, Jon Espen Skogdalen. Thank you for helping us to visually save the memories. 🙂

Keeping the corona distance was hard. (And – as you can see in the film – impossible when meeting big sister Karen and son Anders…)

The following day we received numerous welcome-messages and drop-in visitors on board.

Even journalist Eva Ersfjord from NRK (the Norwegian Broadcasting Corproration) found her way down to Vilja at the pier, for a cup of coffee and a good chat.

The interview was broadcasted on national television the same evening, and also resulted in a nice article. Truly a cherry on top for our homecoming.

Here’s a link to the interview (Midtnytt 8/9). We’re featured 9 minutes and 45 seconds into the programme: https://tv.nrk.no/serie/distriktsnyheter-midtnytt/202009/DKTL98090820/avspiller

An here’s the article: https://www.nrk.no/trondelag/gikk-all-in-for-tre-ar-med-jordomseiling-1.15151799i

The feeling of being cheered on around the World by our loved ones at home, and by the new friends we’ve met along the way, is a feeling we will  cherish in our hearts forever.

Finally, Tuesday evening, we drove to Meråker, Ingrid’s home town where Mamma Dagrun waited for us. Words can not describe (and cameras were not part of) the moment of that first hug. So in stead, we post a picture of a proud grandchild and 1st grader with her new backpack, that grandmother Mimmi  had waiting for her when we came home. Those grandmas….

A new lifestyle and everyday life on land awaits.

Feeling fortunate – and ready!




Offisiell utnevnelse av Hedersmannskapsmedlem på S/Y Vilja: Otto Inge Molvær

Vi har hatt gleden av å dele vår ferd rundt Jorda med mer enn 50 medseilere som har vært med Vilja på alt fra dagsseilas til tusenvis av nautiske mil i strekk over åpent hav. Vennskap og hverdag har blitt delt og bygd på en helt enestående måte. (Mange av dem er presentert her: http://www.sailingvilja.no/om-folk-farkost/gjestemannskap/)

Av alle disse kjære mennesker, så har et lite knippe utmerket seg på ymse vis, og følgelig blitt høytidelig utnevnt til Hedersmannskapsmedlem på S/Y Vilja til fanfare og champagne. Når vi nå kun er noen få nautiske mil fra startpunktet for SailingViljas ferd, så har vi gleden av å utnevne et femte Hederskapsmedlem: Vår skipslege og god venn Otto Inge Molvær. Bosatt i Førde i Vestland fylke.

Juryens vurdering:   

Otto er utpreget lesehest, trosmenneske, disiplinert og med stålkondis. Etterrettelig og grundig i all sin framferd.

Ovenfor oss er han «Otto», uansett hvilken vei du leser det. 😉 Tillitsvekkende og profesjonell skipslege, sunnmøringen med det gode gliset og lune kommentaren, stadig med sinnsro og tålmodig trygghet ovenfor Viljas ustyrlige trekløver og deres rutineløse seilehverdag. (Takket være ham så har Vilja overholdt flaggheisingsreglement morgen og kveld i det minste i noen måneder av sin seilas.) Som en fotnote kan dessuten nevnes at Otto er sprek som en fole, men har fødselsattest som beviselig vitner om at han har passert åtti og vel så det! 79 årsdagen ble feiret utenfor Equadors kyst, i frisk seilas på vei til Galapagos.

Først sa han seg villig til å sette sammen et Skipsapotek for oss. Jon Petter hadde trodd at en sunnmøring ville velge ut et smalt utvalg, men den gang ei; mer enn åtti preparater ble anbefalt og anskaffet. Grundighet og ansvarlighet hos Dr. Molvær overgår regional betingede særtrekk. Neste utfordring ble anmodning om å være med på første havstrekk som skipslege og matros. Det resulterte i kryssing av Norskehavet fra Norge via Shetland og Fair Isle til Skottland, dernest den Caledonske kanal og to ukers arbeidsdugnad med båten på slip i Oban i Skottland.

Nå fikk Otto mersmak på havkryssinger og kanalgang. Det resulterte i 3000 flere nautiske mil fra Martinique via Panamakanalen til Galapago. Da stilte han dessuten opp underveis som lege for andre seilerfamilier som var på Jordomseiling via Panamakanalen.

Vår eminente skipslege har tatt seg av akutte henvendelser fra de mest fjerntliggende flekker på Jord og endog fra ute på det åpne hav, til alle døgnets tider og iblant til alt overmål med knappe tidsfrister. Diagnoser har omfattet betennelser i sår med fare for blodforgiftning, rift i hornhinne, allergireaksjoner og oppsvulmede øyeepler, ørebetennelser, innvollsormer av ymse slag, anbefalinger til styrketreningsøvelser (diskret «foreskrevet» etter å ha bivånet Viljas mannskaps manglende sådanne rutiner i hverdagen…), og diverse helseuttalelser ved ulike anledninger, og mye mer. Dr. Molvær har gått døgnvakt i tre år nå, og fortjener vel saktens både et lite fritørn og denne utmerkelse.

Vår skipslege og gode venn har gitt oss en fundamental trygghet som har ligget i botn gjennom hele SailingViljas ferd rundt Jorden. Utnevnelse av Otto Inge Molvær som Hedersmannskap er selvsagt.


Han føyer seg dermed inn i den eksklusive elitegruppen, som består av følgende eminente individer:

Hedersmannskap på S/Y Vilja:

  • Ingrid Bouwer Utne
  • Audun Sødal
  • Brynhild Reitan
  • Geir Ivar Hildrum
  • Otto Inge Molvær

Hedersmannskapet skal for øvrig ta Vilja videre mot sin framtidige hjemmehavn Svolvær: Vi gleder oss til seileetappe Trondheim – Jøa siste helga i september, som er øremerket «Hedersmannskapsseilas»!




September 2nd, 2020: Arrival Norway!!!

With a gale wind on our tail, we rushed towards the safe port of Ålesund. We made it just in time! A few hours later the winds were blowing at gale force off the coast of Norway. We’re very grateful for not having to deal with that on our last long leg across the Big Blue. This picture is taken at sunrise 100 nm off the coast of Norway, in perfect 25 knots of wind and little waves.

We have arrived in Norway!

In the early hours of Wednesday September 2nd Vilja sailed into the beautiful harbor of Ålesund. OMG, how it feels strange, but wonderful. What an adventure we’ve had. And how good it feels to be (nearly) back home.

Upon arrival at 3 am in the beautiful harbor of Ålesund, Norway.

1122 days have passed since we left Norway from the port of Espevær on August 7th, 2020! The time in between has been filled with so many miles, moments and memories.

Ålesund was our first stop upon arrival back in Norway. Here we wanted to meet and pay tribute to Jon Petter’s colleagues and employer, Kystverket (The Norwegian Coastal Administration) in the town where the head office is based. What a bonus it was that family and friends found their way there to meet us too.

Thank you to family, friends and colleagues for meeting us at the dock in Ålesund and Harøya, making us feel so very welcome and at home. Highly appreciated!

Our first day in Norway was spent in sun and t-shirt weather. Thank you to the weather gods for this gentle welcome to our home country in the north.

But hey, we’re not quite back where we started from yet though. Trondheim awaits. And after that our future hometown Svolvær in Lofoten. But we’re making some stops on the way:

Yesterday we revisited Myklebost on the island of Harøya to pay tribute to Jon Petter’s roots; the place where his grandfather and mentor Petter Myklebust was born.

Karen Marie exploring the very spot on Earth where her great grandfather was born and grew up. The building to the left is where he kept his boat and fishing gear. In a way you could say that this is where the seeds of good seamanship come from for Vilja’s captain, Jon Petter and for our SailingVilja adventure.

Next we’re heading for the island of Hitra, to reunite and share a time-out with dear friends.

ETA Trondheim, Norway will be Monday September 7th sometime in the late afternoon.

OMG – We-re back in Norway!!!!!!!!




August 10th, 2020: Karen Marie’s first day at school – in Greenland!

We have a school beginner on board Vilja. Karen Marie is our soon-to-be six-year-old, feeling more than ready to start in first grade. We’ve long since realized that we won’t make it to our home port in Norway; Svolvær, in time for her to join her future classmates on their very first day of school. She’ll join them in October.

Our first grader, on her first day at school at Tasersuup Atuarfia (Qaqortoq Primary School).

But life unfolds and things work out in mysterious ways; Karen Marie did get her first day at school. It happened in Qaqortoq in Greenland, the very same town that already had a special place in our hearts as the town of our first landfall after 28 days on Vilja. Through a chain of coincidences, Karen Marie ended up being one of the many eager school starters in the classroom of Class 1B at Tasersuup Atuarfia (Qaqortoq Primary School) on Monday August 10th. This date and place will forever be Karen Marie’s first day in 1st Grade in our hearts and family history.

In Greenland the first day of school for the first graders is a big event and celebration in the whole community. It is a day of joint celebration, of giving and sharing.

In the morning all the children assemble at school. Not only the parents join, but also the siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles and more.

Practically all the children and many of the grown-ups wear their national costumes and best clothes.
When the principal calls the name of each child, the family throws coins and treats up in the air for everyone to catch.
A moment of pride and expectations: Our friend Anouik and his parents Bibi and Miki Kielsen and little brother Nuka on their way up to greet the school inspector on Anouik’s first day at school.
Greeting the school inspector and teachers.

The children are then assembled in their classrooms, where they meet their teachers and are given some welcoming gifts such as a text book, a ruler, timetable, and some snacks. School pictures are taken.

In the afternoon the families invite to the Greenlandic tradition of “kaffemik”. This is an “open house” invitation to all friends, family and even “friends of friends” in the community, to come throughout the afternoon to share good food, cakes and coffee in the home, thereby taking part in special life events in a family, whether it be a birthday, confirmation or like today; the first day of school. The guests typically bring presents for the young first grader.

We were invited to come to young Anouik Kielsen’s kaffemik. Anouik is Naja Kielsen’s nephew whom we had met the day before at Sofie and Efraim Tittussen’s home. Naja is their daughter-in-law. (Yes, as we said, a long chain of circumstances…) She had been busy the same day helping her sister prepare for the following day’s celebration: Her nephew Anouik’s first day at school and the “kaffemik” afterwards. As we have a little “school starter” in our crew, we were invited to join at school and the “kaffemik” the next day.

So there we were: After the exciting events at school, we joined Sofie Tittusen and went to Anouik’s kaffemik, held at Anouik’s grandparent’s home.

The respect and seriousness are revealed so clearly in this young man’s eyes. Anouik is showing Jon Petter the present from his parents: A genuine .22 Long Rifle. His dream now is to learn to hunt so that he can achieve the same as his cousin and idol Noah (16), who shot his first musk ox this year.
Three generations: Anouik with his mother Bibi and grandmother Bentia.

A special Thank you! to Bibi and Bentia Kielsen for welcoming three (until then) unknown Norwegian sailors, to their (grand)son’s kaffemik. We truly appreciated the hospitality!

In the evening we ourselves got visitors; our kayaking friends Aron, Abel and Paulus and their families.

Aron and his wife Arnamineq had a school beginner of their own; their son Ottonnguaq. They brought a school starter present for Karen Marie.

A highly appreciated school starter present from Aron, Arnamineq and their children: A soft and cuddly polar (teddy) bear which our little first grader named “Fluff”. Fluff has already joined us on many adventures, even camping in a tent way up the Tasermiut Fjord!

Oh my, what a day! There is no doubt in Karen Marie’s heart: She has started school, and her first school day was in Qaqortoq in Greenland!




Aug 9th, 2020: Greenland hospitality and delicious cuisine

We returned to Qaqortoq after nearly a week’s sail in the Tunulliarfik Fjord (Eriksfjorden). Qaqortoq will always have a special place in our hearts, since we made our first landfall in Greenland there after having spent 28 days on board Vilja prior to arrival. It is such a nice little town with character and many beautiful spots, and last, but not least some very good people. Two of them are Sofie and Efraim Tittussen.

We first met Efraim in his job as harbor master. It turned out that he and Jon Petter share both the same profession and sense of humor. And of course they are both blessed with lovely wives… ?

Upon our return to the town, Efraim and his wife Sofie came over for a cup of coffee on board Vilja. The day after the couple showed us truly heartwarming Greenland hospitality by inviting us home for Sunday dinner.

Our friends Sofie and Efraim Tittussen in Qaqortoq.

We were introduced to the food traditions of Southwest Greenland, with a table abound of delicacies from the ocean. Just look at this “Menu”:

  • Narwhal skin and blubber
  • Dried capelin (in Norwegian: “lodde”)
  • Dried pilot whale (in Norwegian: ”grindhval”)
  • Salted pilot whale blubber
  • Cured hooded seal blubber (in Norwegian: “klappmyss/ hettesel spekk”) in seal oi
  • Freeze-dried halibut (in Norwegian: “frysetørket kveite”)
  • Dried cod.

Accompanied with:

  • Frozen crowberries
  • Home-grown turnips
  • Apple chunks
  • Frozen blue grapes
  • Soy Sauce
  • Aromat spice mix

Our favorites were the narwhal skin and the salted pilot whale blubber, sprinkled with Aromat and dipped in soy sauce. But it all tasted delicious, and we ate as if there was no tomorrow. YUM!

Quite a decorative dish! Karen Marie’s favorite: Narwhal skin and blubber.
Cured hooded seal blubber in seal oil. The hooded seals are caught in the Spring, when they come with the drifting “storis” from the east coast of Greenland.
Sofie made sure Karen Marie had the narwhal skin prepared “the right way”; cut in small pieces, sprinkled by Aromat spice mix and dipped in soy sauce. Karen Marie loved it!
Sofie and Efraim’s son Peter and their daughter-in-law Naja stopped by. Nice to meet more members of the family, and it also led to the next big event the following day; Naja’s nephew Anouik was going to start school on Monday. Celebrating the first day of school for the first graders in the community is a big event in Greenland. Thanks to Naja we were invited to take part in the big day on Monday!
Sofie shared hand picked and dried herbs for tea; Bog Labrador Tea (in Danish: Grønlandsk Post), dwarf birch leaves (in Norwegian: «dvergbjørkeblad») and reindeer lichen (in Norwegian: «reinsdyrlav»).
We tried to brew tea the same evening, and it tasted excellent.

After dinner, we had coffee and several kinds of cakes. What a treat!

Another highlight was Sofie letting Ingrid try on her kamiks (traditional sealskin boots worn with the national costume). She even took out their daughter’s national costume from when she was a little girl and let Karen Marie try on the whole outfit. No doubt that the little girl on the following pictures is feeling very proud and beautiful indeed.

A bit tight around the neck, but these girls didn’t give up! ?
Karen Marie wearing the beautiful national costume of the Southwest coast of Greenland.
The SailingVilja family, with the “front figure” nearly bursting with pride over her outfit.
A truly enjoyable afternoon and evening together with the Tittussen family. Getting rid of their sailor friends wasn’t easy! We stayed until long after dessert, and well into the evening.

What an amazing and authentic Greenland experience. And how nice it was to get to know this nice couple and their family better. We hope to meet the Tittussens again in the future both in Norway and Greenland!

Again we feel it’s the people we meet along our way that makes all the difference on this long voyage around the World.




July 30th and August 8th-10th, 2020: Qayaqing in Qaqortoq

Did you know that there are more than thirty different Greenland kayak rolling techniques? We certainly didn’t. All the more cool to learn one of them properly in Greenland; the country where the kayak was invented and is still in active use.

One evening in Qaqortoq we met Abel, Aron and Paulus. They included us in their kayak training and practice, and even took a big chunk of their time to teach Jon Petter one of the basic rolling techniques. Then, a week later when we returned to Qaqortoq we met the same guys again. This time Karen Marie and Ingrid were invited to try out their «qayaq»s. Karen Marie especially appreciated trying out the “duck support floats” for kids.

So much fun! Thank you to our new qayaq friends in Qaqortoq.

Friendships were made, and a couple of days later we were lucky enough to have their families over for a visit on board Vilja.

From left to right: Diego, Paulus, Søren, Dorthee and Veronica

Behind JP & Ingrid, from left to right: Aron, Erninnguaq (4), Ottonuaq (7), Arnamineq, Angutivik (18), Birthe (7 months), Adina (17), Nikolaj (7), Sofie, Hans Jakob, Kakillarnaq (7) and Abel.

So nice to make friends with families whom we share the appreciation of kayaking with. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that we will meet our “qayaqing” friends again in the future for some shared kayak (and sailing and more) fun in Norwegian waters!




August 5th, 2020: Catching fish with our bare hands!

The most extraordinary fishing experience we’ve ever had: Catching fish (Arctic chars, called “røye” in Norwegian) with our bare hands.

Who would’ve dreamt that we would ever try this traditional technique, not to mention succeed at it!?

And to top it all off: The fish were caught at the historical grounds of Brattahlid (Qassiarsuk), in the very river where Erik the Red might have done the same a thousand years before us.

Thank you to our guide and friend David, for making this possible. We’ll never forget it!




01.08.2020: A hike to the great Greenland Glacier!

More than 80 percent of Greenland is covered by ice! While in Narsarsuaq, we made a day’s hike up to the Inland Ice, the World’s largest glacier. Magnificent! And so nice to be out and about, moving again. (The 28 days on board Vilja didn’t do so well for our physical fitness…)

Ready for a hike!
It was quite a steep climb to get there.
Looking back: A view towards the Flower Valley and the Tunulliarfik Fjord (Eiriksfjorden).
Heading for the glacier.
The SailingVilja bunch in front of the Narsarsuaq Glacier, part of the inland ice of Greenland; the largest glacier in the World.
There are many sheep in Southwest Greenland. And some odd tourists…
Quite exclusive: A taste of glacier ice.
Yeah! We made it to the glacier! Our little one; quite proud. This has been a goal for her, ever since she watched the “Villmarksbarna I Grønland” movie.
Thumbs up for another excellent Greenland experience!
Walking home through the Flower Valley (Blomsterdalen).
Look what was waiting for us when we came home! This giant wasn’t there when we left in the morning. No doubt this could’ve put an end to our SailingVilja journey. Well, sometimes you’ve got to have some luck to make it, right?! Needless to say, we moved to the inner side of the pier without further delay…




July 26th, 2020: Ashore in Greenland after 28 days on board!

On July 26th S/Y Vilja reached Greenland, after a week’s sail from Newfoundland.

The first sightings of icebergs as we got close to land in Greenland was a bit eerie and definitely fascinating.

We sail with respect and extra cautiousness in these waters, knowing that not much more than a centimeter of fiberglass separates our dry safety on board from the icy cold, wet and merciless surroundings.

Arriving in Qaqortoq, Greenland feels like arriving into freedom.

OMG, finally we can go ashore again! It’s been four weeks since we last set foot on land. No doubt, the pandemic has a substantial impact on our homewourd journey… We departed from Rhode Island, U.S.A. on June the 28th. We knew then that Canada would only let us stop to provision and refuel. Maybe it’s just as well that we didn’t know at the time that the weather would force us to stay quarantined on board Vilja in St John’s for 12 days before we could head onwards to Greenland… So four weeks later we are indeed thoroughly quarantined, and we arrive in a country where there are no active COVID-cases. This represents freedom in more than one way.

We have uttered more than many sighs of relief since we arrived. Now we simply enjoy and appreciate life and nature in its simplicity and beauty, not to mentioned feeling safe & free (the pre-COVID «normal», in other words, but no longer taken for granted…)!




7th – 19th July 2020: St John’s in Newfoundland: 12 days in COVID19-quarantine

Many people ask us: So what do you do on board when you’re sailing? How do you make time pass? Our answers are always many, and the bottom line is; there’s always something to do, and we’re NEVER bored.

But what if we’re stuck on board the boat without sailing for a couple of weeks?! What then? Well, we’ve tried that again, in our second long COVID19 quarantine (the first one was the 2+ weeks quarantine in Suriname in March-April). The answer is actually pretty much the same: There’s ALWAYS something to do, and we’re NEVER bored. But of course there is a difference in being so near shore: observing land life and meeting people, though at a distance.

Want some more details? Well, here are some images of what we’ve been doing and of people who have made an impact on our 12 days in quarantine in Newfoundland!

Arrival at St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada on July 7th, 2020.

CONGRATULATIONS, to our son EVEN! Even handed in his Master’s Thesis in Physics and Mathematical Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology back home in Trondheim on July 13th. That gave reason for celebration, and we had a delicious cheesecake with bakeapple (cloudberries) delivered for the occasion from Rocket Bakery.
Many good things came out of our days in quarantine. Maybe some of the most valuable ones were that we 1: Discovered that the Wallas diesel heaters weren’t working and 2: Had time to troubleshoot time and time again to figure out what was wrong. 3: Received amazingly good help from Stian at Sunwind in Norway, our Wallas expert and supplier who answered numerous phonecalls during his summer holidayto help us out. THANK YOU! 4: Getting even mor invaluable help from Anderson and Sheilagh here at St John’s, which made it possible to fix at least one of them. 5: Jon Petter succeeded in making one of the heaters up and running. In total: So it looks like we’re not going to have a freeeezzzing trip to Greenland. Phew!
We also had plenty of time to do general maintenance, and check some long postponed things off our list.
SV Panda sailed in to St John’s harbor a week after us, so we even had our own little “quarantine neighborhood” during the last few days of our stay. Visiting each other was not permitted, but we had some good talks from one boat to the other, and even exchanged some cups of coffee, cakes and maps… We’ll be sailing the same route to Greenland, and hope to meet up there and maybe even give each other a hello hug!?

COVID19 has rigged businesses for home delivery. Perfect for a quarantined Vilja crew. Provisions, winter gear, good drink, crafts and even some gifts for home were delivered on board.
Our personal treat: Coffee & drinks from Rocket Bakery, our neighborhood café and bakery. Yum! Much appreciated!
Dear Judi O’Keefe from the Norwegian Consulate. What a great person! Not only did she get all sorts of errands and practical things done for us from the minute we arrived. She also made all those special thoughtful surprises happen; cappuccinos delivered in the morning and always that little surprise treat or gift for our youngest crew member. Thanks for making our day, time and time again!
This family – Sheilagh, Anderson and Bridget – helped make a HUGE difference to our remaining sail in the Arctic waters: Anderson had a necessary broken part welded for our diesel heater so JP was able to repair the heater on the spot. Sheilagh got hold of allergy medicine for Ingrid when she in the last minute realized it was nearly a necessity in this cold climate. This lovely bunch even took our moldy winter gear home and gave them a thorough wash and picked up stuff and brought to the boat – not to mention the surprise presents for Karen Marie that brought a BIG smile to her face. Boy, do we feel lucky!
So many people stopped by and asked if they could help us with something. Here are some of the good people who helped us out getting things from our wish list.
And then there are all the warm, friendly Newfoundlanders who showed interest in our journey and these somewhat unusual sailing visitors docked up in their port.

We hope and believe that we have made some friends that we take with us onwards in life. We hope to see you in Norway some day soon!

Some “unlawful” steps on the pier, so at least we can say that we’ve touched Canadian soil.

So this was a summary of our 12 days on board Vilja. Although we would’ve love to go ashore, we’re grateful that we were permitted to stop here for provisioning, refueling and to wait until the weather window opened for our sail onwards to Greenland.  And we’re happy to say that our stay here has really been nice, in its own way. It’s not such a bad idea to be forced to stay at home for a couple of weeks. You have time to do the things you’ve kept postponing, and you have time to just relax and be together. And last, but not least: our stay here in St John’s was made special because of the many friendly, generous, smiling, interesting, interested and heartwarm people we’ve met. THANK YOU to every single one who have been part of our time here!

We’ve been on board Vilja for 21 consecutive days now, and still have another 6-7 days to go on our way to Greenland. We’re happy to be able to truthfully say that we’re still enjoying each other’s company. And believe it or not; we haven’t been bored one single minute! ?

And now we sail onwards. Our next port of call is Qaqortoq in the SW of Greenland. We can hardly wait to explore this exotic land of green & ice that we have ahead of us. Expected Time of Arrival: July 25th/26th.

All is good on Vilja. We’re heading east for the first time on our SailingVilja journey!




July 10th, 2020: 9 days slo-mo sailing to Canada (arrival July 7th), then some quarantine days, and then probably some more…

We’ve finally reached Newfoundland! We spent 9 days on a passage that could’ve taken us six… The reason? We missed the weather window. What we were left to sail with was either no wind or head winds. On the first half leg was through thick fog, on the second we had many sunny days. All in all this led to many quite unusual sailing activities on board, and also some fantastic moments of natural wonders. We even saw a couple of moonfish(!) more or less “bobbing” on the surface along with Vilja in the windstill. A peculiar sight.

What’s that bobbing just below the surface? The answer is: a moonfish. We met two moonfish on our way north to Canada. Even though it doesn’t show on this picture, these peculiar creatures are huge, often many hundred kilos!
Who would’ve thought that sailing and sorting Lego were doable at the same time? Well, they aren’t really. But when Vilja was turned into a «motorboat» for a few days(!), then Karen Marie seized the day. 😉
Wow, what having enough time can do – part 1… I have previously been known to hate needle and thread. But on this sail I found myself actually enjoying sewing a sleeping bag for Karen Marie’s dolls. Who would’ve thought?
Homesewn sleeping bag for Karen Marie’s doll Blaire. Gotta admit I’m pretty proud of this one!
Oh, what having enough time can do – part 2…
When there’s no wind, the bait sinks to the bottom. And there we caught this «American Plaice» (which it is called, according to our sport fish guide book). Not quite a halibut, not quite a flounder, but something in between. And in any case; absolutely delicious!
One of those evenings where everything just seems to work out: A lovely sunset, a delicious meal of freshly caught fish and to top it all off; an uncountable number of whales surrounding us, regularly reminding us of their appearance by the sound of breathing through blowholes. Amazing!
Then we met some head winds…

So now we’ve arrived in St John’s. We are under strict COVID19 regulations, and do not have permission to go on land. Everything we need is delivered to us on board. We received diesel, provisions and fresh water on the first day here.

Customs and Immigration came down to the pier and cleared us in immediately upon arrival. Vilja has been granted a non-discretionary (transit) stop, i.e. we can refuel and provision, but are not admitted on land and must leave as soon as the weather conditions allow for safe travel onwards.

Judi O’Keefe from the Norwegian Consulate came by shortly after our arrival with some items that we had on our wish list, and has since been our helping hand with all sorts of things we need to get done. She’s even brought over cappuccinos, brownies and the nicest surprises for our littlest crew member.

Judi O’Keefe from the Norwegian Consulate, here handing over the first delivery to us; Shoe soals for JP’s boots and postcards for Ingrid & KM to send to Mamma Dagrun in Meråker plus to two schools in Norway and New Zealand. And in the bag she had tucked in some local treats and surprises. How nice!

We’ve met some other special people over the first days also, which we’ll tell more about in future updates. Let’s just say for now; the Newfoundlanders have managed to share their hospitality and generosity in an amazing way even in these very adverse conditions (remember; we’re stuck on the boat and nobody’s allowed to get even close to us!). We’re truly grateful and feel we’re gonna have to come back some day in the future to get to know this place and people under normal conditions.

A cheers (ankerdram!) upon arrival, thanking for a good and safe passage from the U.S.A. to Canada.

So how long will we stay here? The weather decides. The first week’s weather forecast has only been showing us rougher weather and stronger headwinds than we like to see either upon departure or arrival. So we’ve chosen to wait. In the meantime, we’re getting some maintenance done on the boat, and also simply “hanging out”. Many of the locals stop on the pier and have a chat with us. Some have even offered to run errands for us, help us with laundry or even produce or mend spare parts that we need for the maintenance.

So all is good on Vilja. Just waiting for that weather window…



June 9th, 2020: We’re where we want to be! (Emerson, New Jersey, U.S.A.)

So I guess that us being where we are right now is a story of following our hearts, whilst putting some brain into it. ?

Time is quite a wondrous thing, life likewise. A wise soul once said: “Life’s what happens to you when you’re busy making plans.” That’s strikingly true. Still we never seize to plan, do we…

Anyway, our plans have been totally tossed around these last few months (as it has for the rest of the World too, I guess). We’ve been fortunate though: Things have worked out, and we’ve even had a remarkably good time not knowing what’s next!

To take a snapshot of monthly status for these last three months:

  • 3 months ago (March 9th, 2020): We left Brazil, thinking that WE ourselves were in charge of our sailing route. We had plans for picking up crew (read: friends and family) on several locations. Planned and confirmed events we  were all looking forward to was sailing up the river to the interior of Suriname, watching the Classic Yacht Regatta in Antigua, an Easter sail to Cuba, a Princess lunch in Disney World, to mention a few. A few days later we were “sealocked” with no country wanting to let us in due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic… The possibilities were so narrowed down that we even considered turning NE to sail straight across the ocean directly to Norway (a 4500 nautical miles non-stop unplanned voyage).
  • 2 months ago (April 9th, 2020): We sailed from Suriname, after 2 weeks quarantine in the Suriname River. The National COVID-19 Coordination Team and the Surinamese authorities had granted S/Y Vilja permission to stop there out of “huminatarian reasons”, to refuel and provision. We did however not feel that it was the right place to stay longer. We needed new upper inner shrouds for Vilja (they had snapped on the sail here), and these we could neither produce or have shipped to Suriname given the prevailing lockdown. We also felt the need to move on towards home. So we set sail for the U.S. Virgin Islands. All possibilities for getting family and friends on board were ruled out by the regulations. All the aforementioned plans to Antigua, Cuba, Florida and more were also cancelled. We started preparing for a return sail via the Azores. At the same time the region of Ingrid’s birthplace in New Jersey, U.S.A. where friends and family live was developing into what was described as the “epicenter for the COVID-19 outbreak”. It seemed like an unlikely stop for our further sail.
  • 1 month ago (May 9th, 2020): We had already spent three weeks in the U.S. Virgin Islands, having had time to rest and reconcile. The ports of the U.S. mainland were opening up, the World had started to “get used to” coping with a pandemic – a new normal was settling, with a World carefully easing regulations. So we made a new and somewhat bold choice: To sail ourselves back on track to our original plan, and head north to the U.S.A. instead of northeast to the Azores. We joined the Salty Dawg Homebound Flotilla, to stay updated on the constantly changing COVID-19 rules and regulations for us sailors, and also get professional weather routing along the way.
  • By today, June 9th of 2020: We’ve sailed the 1900 nautical mile stretch from the U.S. Virgin Islands. The choice of sailing non-stop 14 days across the sea from St Thomas to NJ was made to guarantee that we would be totally quarantined upon meeting our dear friends, especially Finn (90) and Mary Lib (95).

Along the way we made the strategic choice to heave-to in head winds of 30+ knots out at sea rather than go to port and wait it off there (a great and undividedly positive experience by the way!).  We’ve crossed the Gulf stream and rounded Cape Hatteras in excellent conditions (dead calm, had to motor though…). Gale force winds blew us northwards, until finally we the last couple of days sailed at “a walking pace” along New Jersey’s coastline. 4 days ago we sailed up the Hudson River, passing Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, and timely enough also a crowd of more than a thousand people (in these COVID-19 social distancing times…) participating in a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration in Hoboken. We finally anchored on the New Jersey side of the river below the George Washington Bridge, at North Hudson Yacht Club. This would have been Ingrid’s “homeport” of her childhood, when she grew up in Bloomfield, NJ.

And now we are with our dear family friends; the Raae and Bensen families. It is wonderful to see them again and spend time together, even more so knowing that it almost didn’t come to be. We’ve visited my old neighborhood in Bloomfield, and even visited my dear neighbor Mary Lib. So nice to tie the strings from the past to the present. Now Karen Marie also feels she is a part of my American history. Next week we will be visiting my sister Christine and brother Eric, which I truly look forward to.

All I can say is “WOW!”.

Sailing up the Hudson River, with the Manhattan skyline waiting in the distance, on June 5th, 2020.
What a magnificent way to arrive; the Statue of Liberty wishing us welcome as we sailed up the Hudson River on June 5th 2020. It felt special for Ingrid to take Karen Marie and Jon Petter back to her roots along this route. Her own father entered through Ellis Island in 1945 when he arrived here from Norway to this, which was to become his future home country.
We made it! We brought out the champagne when we arrived safely in New Jersey on June 5th.
Dear friends reunited: Finn and Ingrid in Emerson, New Jersey. Finn has followed me through my life ever since I was born, and feels like a second father.)
Enjoying time with family friends, and of course getting together for a real American BBQ (which Ingrid loves!). Here are members from three generations of the Raae family. Finn Raae to the right, and his daughter Marilyn Raae Bensen (Ingrid’s godmother) in the center of the picture. Second to the left is Finn’s granddaughter and Ingrid’s godchild Samantha Wigdis Bensen. A whole bunch of wonderful people, and (as it feels like) our family.
Taking Karen Marie on a walk down memory lane. Here from our stop in Brookdale Park’s beautiful rose garden, a place which Ingrid’s mother Dagrun appreciated so much was part of our neighborhood when we lived here.
Ingrid and Karen Marie in front of Ingrid’s childhood home in Bloomfield, New Jersey.
So nice to meet Ingrid’s friend and neigbor from her childhood days, the always amazing Mary Lib (95).
And we’re back to making new plans, once again… Here Ingrid’s studying the map and litterature of southern Greenland. We hope we will get permission to stop in Narsarsuaq (once the home port of Eirik Raude and Leiv Eriksson) before we sail through the Prins Christian Sund. The application is being processed by Greenland/ Danish authorities. We’re keeping fingers crossed!
S/Y Vilja is anchored below the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey. Who would’ve thought this dream could come true, remembering that only a couple of months ago the entire World  was locked down (and still partially is…).

So we’re busy making plans again… But this time I think we’re appreciating more than normal being in the present too.

Still, it’ll be interesting to see where we are a month from now?



May 21st,, 2020: Thank you, U.S. Virgin Islands!

Thank you to the U.S. Virgin Islands for being a safe haven for us where we have stayed while the entire World – and we ourselves –  were and still are trying to figure out how to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you for letting us enter into your waters and onto your land, and even making us feel welcome. We have felt incredibly lucky!

A special thank you to our new friends, Ingrid Marie and Sophia Widvey, who are USVI residents, though originally from Karmøy, Norway. They have been generous beyond our imagination. You’re amazing, and have “made our day” again and again these past weeks.

We bring so many good memories with us from the five weeks we’ve stayed in the U.S. Virgin Islands. And feel all the more grateful for them, knowing that meanwhile many sailors have had quite challenging times in other places around the World.

Jesse Smith on S / Y Spailpin gives a thumbs up for the passage ahead to mainland USA. S/Y Spailpin was far south in the South Atlantic, en route from South Georgia to Tristan de Cunha and South Africa when the corona pandemic broke out. They were denied entry at their ports of call, and had to head north towards the United States, an additional unplanned distance of 6-7,000 nautical miles! When Jesse and Spailpin’s owner Barry entered the Virgin Islands, they had not been ashore in 2 months. Barry had to catch the first flight to Alaska for work, whilst Jesse continued towards Chesapeake Bay sailing single-handed.

Now Team Vilja is ready to sail onwards. We’re homeward bound. Our next stop is 1500 nautical miles NW, where we plan to anchor in the Hudson River, New Jersey, U.S.A.. There we look forward to meeting friends and family that we haven’t seen in what seems to be tooooo long.

We’ve joined the Salty Dawg Homeward Bound Flotilla, and will appreciate receiving professional weather routing from Chris Parker along the way, as well as being tracked and followed up by a shoreside coordinator team. We reckon around 15 boats will be heading from the Caribbean to the U.S. east coast along pretty much the same route and the same time as us. Quite a new experience for us on Vilja, who are used to being “lone sailors” across the seas. It’s actually quite nice to feel like part of a team, especially since the World (at least on land) is so unpredictable and changing in these times of the corona outbreak.

The weather forecasts are showing a bit less wind than we had hoped for. We hope there will be sufficient to fill our sails and take us forward at a steady pace though. And as far as can be predicted; it looks like there isn’t any rough weather expected in quite a while. Should something develop, then we might have to seek shelter in the Chesapeake Bay, Beaufort, or somewhere else south of our destination. We’ll just have to wait and see, or maybe rather sail and see.

Vilja’s on her way again. Next stop: mainland United States of America!

Read more about Vilja’s sail homewards to Norway in a World «put on hold» by the COVID-19 pandemic,  covered by the Norwegian sailing journal «Seilmagasinet»’s website www.seilmagasinet.no. The newest article is here, published May 21st, 2020:


(in Norwegian of course, but Google Translate should do the trick should you need some assistance!)

And now a look back at some of the many good moments and memories from our five weeks in the U.S. Virgin Islands:





April 12th, 2020: HIP HOORAY! S/Y Vilja and crew have completed our Circimnavigation around the World!

On April 12th 2020 S/Y Vilja crossed her own wake of February 17th 2018. That time two years back we were on our way westwards to Tobago. Now we’re heading north towards the U.S. Virgin Islands. And with this we can say: S/Y Vilja and the three of us – Jon Petter, Ingrid & Karen Marie – have completed our sail ALL the way around the World!

So if we should ever philosophize on the question of “How big is our planet really?”, then we have at least one qualified answer on the matter, achieved through experience! ? Because we have sailed every nautical mile of the way, through every single wave, filling Vilja’s sails with every breath (or gust) of wind we were able to catch, to get ourselves all the way around the World.

S/Y Vilja’s Circumnavigation has covered a distance of 30 500 nautical miles, equivalent to 56 500 kilometers. We have stood behind the helm for more than 5 000 hours since we were here last. Not only are we happy: We feel incredibly grateful and humble. And we are proud.

We celebrated on Easter Morning with Champagne breakfast, Easter colored boilt eggs, homemade marzipan eggs from the Easter bunny, and a truly “fantasious” rainbow colored cheesecake.

Everything of course prepared with our chief esthete and youngest sailor in the lead, with her boundless fantasy and her devoted “Support Team” keeping the ship afloat.

Oh, and we even exchanged gifts! To each other’s great surprise, because it had never been spoken about previously. Maybe not surprising. This milestone didn’t come all of a sudden, as a surprise. It’s actually the result of a big team effort.

Symbolic gifts to congratulate each other on this Milestone in Life; Our completed Circumnavigation on S/Y Vilja.

The gift from Jon Petter to Ingrid: The tail of another long distance traveller of the seas. Acquired after having crossed South Atlantic Ocean, on the islands of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil.

The gift from Ingrid to Jon Petter: An artwork made in the shape of a globe, from a solid material that still is closer to Jon Petter’s heart than fiber glass… Crafted on the other side of the World, by Peter Edmonds on Aotea (Great Barrier Island) in Aotearoa (New Zealand).

And finally, a gift also for our youngest circumnavigator; a maori warrior doll, made in what to her is her 2nd home country; Aotearoa, New Zealand. The maori heritage of that country will forever be an integrated part of her childhood memories, thanks to this circumnavigation that brought us and kept us there for six unforgettable months, throughout the tropical storm season of 2018-2019.

Circumnavigators of all ages: A memory from our meeting with Jon Sanders (81), a living legend among long-distance sailors. Sanders is now venturing his 11th circumnavigation, single-handed. We met him on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic in February 2020, when we had nearly completed our first.

So with this we mark our circumnavigation. Our first one. What the future holds for either of us, no one knows. Maybe more will follow? The World is going nowhere. Where will we go?!

Well, short term: Next stop is the U.S. Virgin Islands. Then we’ll see. ?



April 9th, 2020: Thank you Suriname, and thank you to a very special woman; our friend Nettie.

Thank you, for keeping us safe when the World is changing faster than we thought possible, in these changing times of the COVID-19 pandaemic.

Vilja has been 2 weeks in quarantine in Suriname. We have reprovisioned, refueled, done technical work on the boat and last, but not least; we have been given time to think and rethink.

Thank you for letting us provision, refuel, rest and think. And most of all, thank you for the humanity you have shown us. And a special thanks from all three of us to Nettie Djikstra at the Harbor Resort Domburg, who made all this happen and more, while we were in two weeks of quarantine.

Nettie Djikstra. What a woman! What a human being! Thanks to this uniquely compassionate and vigorous woman and the good people that surround her at the Harbor Resort Domburg, we have been able to prepare and strengthen our boat, minds and hearts for a long sail onwards. People like this make the World a better place.
Many good memories from two weeks of quarantine in the Suriname River. We have used the boat to its full, and even slept on deck. Here from a breakfast in bed after one of those nights.
Taking our dinghy up a creek on the Suriname River, having it totally to ourselves, until we could go no further. What an adventure and feeling of freedom in the middle of our contraption.

We have given our next move more thought than ever. Should we stay or should we go? We choose to sail on. After all we are homebound for Norway. And we feel the need to get technical spare parts for Vilja, to be extra prepared for the long voyage home. As it is now, we can’t get parts here in Suriname. So we sail to a country where we can; the U.S. Virgin Islands. A package is already shipped there from our expert team at Riggmaster AS in Norway. In it are two custom-made upper inner shrouds to keep as spare parts for Vilja should we need them, and a head gasket for our Fischer Panda generator.

Jon Petter tailoring a spare shroud from Spectra rope, to have just in case.

We have experienced one too many times that the borders closed right in front of us, while we were still at sea. That is what happened when we were midway between Brazil and Suriname. Still, we consider it the right choice to move again even though the same can happen. But we build on experience, and have made all preparations we can possibly think of. American, Norwegian and Surinamese Authorities are well informed and understand our situation. We have the chief of the U.S: Virgin Islands Customs and Border Control who is expecting our arrival. So are several sailor friends, a marina and even a Norwegian woman living in the USVI (Another Ingrid. That must mean good charisma, eh?! ?).

And just in case, we are provisioned and prepared for many months at sea, should it for some unexpected reason prove necessary…

So here we go. Our ETA at St Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands is April 16th. Follow us on the map as we sail across the sea:


May we have fair winds and open borders!




March 8th, 2020: Good bye Brazil! We’re heading for the Caribbean. Or will we have time for a stop in Suriname?

Waiting for weather isn’t so bad when it’s on the magnificent islands of Fernando de Noronha of Brazil.

But now we HAVE to move on. We’ve been waiting for wind for two weeks now, but still there’s nothing. So now we’re going anyway, hoping to catch every breath Mother Nature takes to our advantage.

Maybe we stop in Suriname, >1500nm NW? Or maybe we head on straight to Barbados, ~2000 nm N? Time will tell. It all depends on how long this passage will take.

Anyhow, we’re definitely getting close to crossing our own track from two years back, thereby completing our circumnavigation.

But first we’ve gotta sail/drift/motor our way through those Doldrums…

We expect to be out on the Big Blue for a couple of weeks, and really look forward to it! This time we’re three on board; Ingrid, Jon Petter & Karen Marie.

Ship a’hoy!

Ps. Interested in reading about our passage across the South Atlantic? Check out our Einar’s (our crew member) everyday blog here: https://blog.einarhansen.me


January 5th-11th, 2020: Week #9 in South Africa. Last minute impressions of South Africa + Getting ready for another Ocean Passage!

Our ninth and last week in South Africa was an intense mix of looking back, being present and getting ready for the future:

Vilja has to be as ready as she can be for the more than 13 000 nautical miles of sailing that remain ahead of us in the coming 7 months. At the same time we still wanted to check off some more things on our bucket list for South Africa. And finally, there are the friends that we are surrounded by here in the harbor; the sailors and people we have shared experiences and built friendships with. After South Africa, we will sail at our own pace and follow different routes. No-one knows when we will meet again, although we’re sure we will meet many of them again, sometime somewhere.

Making the most out of all these matters made for a pretty intense last week in South Africa. There’s so much to be grateful for!

A new crew member has arrived!

Look who’s here!

We’ve got a new crew member on board Vilja: Einar-Johan Hansen has arrived!

Einar-Johan and Ingrid were colleagues back in Norway at the governmental energy agency Enova. Einar-Johan is also the mastermind and has done most of the programming work put into creating our website www.sailingvilja.no. We’ve been hoping to get him on board ever since we started our voyage, and now finally it is actually going to happen! Einar-Johan is joining us for the entire passage across the South Atlantic: South Africa- Namibia – St Helena – Ascension – Brazil. AWESOME!

Our minds our now 75 % fixed on starting the long sail we have ahead of us. But first, the results of the remaining 25 %:

Getting some last glimpses of South Africa

Sunday January 5th: Visiting the museum and former state prison on Robben Island was on our bucket list. We finally made it happen on Sunday.

The visit gave us some insight, and it was quite moving to be on the grounds where Nelson Mandela and many hundred brave fighters for freedom and the abolition of the Apartheid system in South Africa and Namibia spent a big part of their lives.

The message is made even more powerful when told by ex-convicts of the Robben Island Prison. Here: Vulindñeña Makaula (in the foreground) who happened to re-visit the Island together with his family when we were there, and was good enough to share some of his experiences and answer some of our many questions. As did our guide (in the background), whom we are sorry to not remember the name of, but still owe thanks to for an excellent guided tour.

The message was made even more powerful by having actual “ex-convicts” as guides, sharing not only the history of the prison but their personal experiences and understanding of life on the island and that dark chapter of South African history.

Hanging out in KALK BAY, voted “the coolest neighborhood in the World”.

Forbes has voted Kalk Bay the coolest neighborhood in the world. It was only a 20 minute drive from where we were staying in Simons Town. Of course we had to pay the neighborhood a visit.

We’re not so sure that we can agree that Kalk Bay is the coolest neighborhood of the World? Although it DOES have its charm.

One thing I absolutely WILL agree on though is: They have an awesome bookshop there!

The Kalk Bay Bookshop is one of those rare bookshops with a personality. Every book seems hand picked, giving you the feeling that any book you pick will give you a unique reading experience. Quite special, and the kind of place I totally fall in love with.

A walk to the local waterfall

We walked to the local waterfall in Simons Town. We found only a trickle of water, but it was made up for by the nice surroundings and good company; the crew on S/Y Yonder, Cannelle and Fabian.

Karen Marie, Ingrid and Petter, with Simons Town and False Bay Marina in the background.

Getting the crew ready

It’s not only the boat that has to be ready for the thousands of miles at sea that we have ahead of us. Also the crew have to make sure they’re alright! Ingrid has been struggling with allergies for quite some time, probably against the mildew on board. In January the eyes said “no more!”, when even the eyeballs starting swelling. It was time to go to the doctor! First our very own “ship’s doctor” Otto home in Norway gave his evaluations and advice. Who were again confirmed by the doctor she visited in Simons Town. Now plenty of anti-histamine and antibiotic eyedrops have been prescribed and stored on board. Things are looking better, literally spoken!

Getting the boat ready

And then there’s Vilja. So many big and small things that have been done! Vilja’s looking better than ever!

Einar-Johan and Petter put on their scuba diving gear and scrubbed the hull.
The anchor chain and anchor were galvanized at Helderberg Galvanizing.
Provisioning is an activity in itself. Karen Marie is growing up thinking that it’s normal to buy food once a month or less…
And storing the stuff on board is an art form and a bit of magic in itself.
We have bought a spare petrol fire pump, with the capacity to pump up to 150 liters of water per minute if it should prove necessary. Good to have at hand, but hoping of course never to get use for it.
We had service done on our Spectra Catalina Watermaker. Turned out that the feed pump had to be changed. Finally, it’s back to producing around 50 litres of fresh water per hour, the double of what it’s managed these past months. Thank you to Peter Bakker at Bakker Yachting Electronics in Brenton-on Sea for the good follow-up and advice, and to George Brink at Powersol in Cape Town for a job well done.

Saying farewell to sailing friends

Friendships is a unique gift. We have been incredibly lucky to find and feel it grow with some unique people that we have met along the way. So also in South Africa. In Simons Town it was time to say goodbye for now and see you again sometime somewhere.

Our very dear friends from Mossel Bay came to pay us a visit; from left to right: Yuli, Sasha, Jon Petter, Ingrid, Peter and Max.
We even got what I guess can be called the Nilssen Family’s special “crew shirts” for their Human Origins Tour. Especially nice to get since it was the tour that brought us together in the first place. ?
We first met Dan Stroud on S/Y Aisling in Richards Bay. Many a morning coffee have been shared with him since. It was a bonus that he made it to Simons Town just in time before we left, so we could have some extra shared morning moments and good talks.
Susann on S/Y Nehaj, whom we are impressed and inspired by; now on her way to having circumnavigated for the fourth time single-handed, whereof 1,5 times non-stop. Not only is she incredible in her achievements, but she is an amazing person whom we are lucky enough to call a friend.
Gary and Jess on Sea Stallion, with their dogs Levi (in Karen Marie’s arms) and Jackie. Just looking at Karen Marie and how she’s hugging Levi, knowing that Karen Marie is actually quite cautious about dogs says it all about how secure she feels when together with this lovely little sailing family, both the members on two and four legs. Thank you for making our strengthening our little girl’s confidence and building her own friendship with both the two- and four-legged members of the family.
Jess, Jackie & Karen Marie out for a paddle in the marina.
Our friendly neighbors over the Christmas and New Year Holidays at False Bay Marina.
Cruising friends at False Bay Marina.


And then, finally, we were ready to move on to Cape Town. Mission: Check-out of South Africa.

Einar-Johan is feeling ready to finally set sail and start our next sailing adventure!
Goodbye to Simons Town. Gary on Sea Stallion bid us farewell at the dock, wishing us fair winds and a good sail.
Hello Cape Town. The characteristic clouds that seem to flow down from the mountain side of Table Mountain makes quite a sight.
Anchor schnaps (“ankerdram”) upon safe arrival in Cape Town.
Rope bonanza! Jon Petter, Karen Marie and Petter had a ball at «their kind of candy shop”: Southern Ropes Factory Outlet.
Ready for check-out!
Team Namibia! This excellent gang are ready to set sail for Namibia. From left to right: Petter (Slungaard Kristensen), Einar-Johan Hansen, Ingrid, Jon Petter and Karen Marie.
We said bye to the locals. ?
Goodbye South Africa, and thank you SO much for two unforgettable months of free time (only 1000 nautical miles sailed in 9 weeks!), a challenging coastline (that still gave some really nice sailing and our very first southern cape; Cape Agullhas), wonderful wildlife, amazing people and a heart-moving history.

So now we’re heading north to Lüderitz in Namibia, our last stop before we set out on our second Atlantic passage. Ship a’hoy!



December 29th, 2019 – January 4th, 2019: Week #8 in South Africa. Happy New Year! Sharks, gems, climbs, new year salutes and even new crew members!

As we’re getting ready to sail to Namibia (on January 11th), we just post a quick update from our 8th week in South Africa. These last couple of weeks in Simons Town have been our “vacation”, as you will see here. It’s been good.

We don’t have time to write many comments (it’s 2pm on Saturday the 11th as I write this, and our sailboat & crew are ready to go!). But hopefully the pics will talk for themselves!

Sunday December 29th: Shark cage diving in Gansbaai

See more about Xolani’s work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRpSDjbkzEAOn the way home we stopped in Hermanus, the whale capitol of South Africa.

From the walk along the cliff path in Hermanus, the whale capitol of South Africa. No whales in sight though.

Some more things taken off our «Must do» and «Can do» list. 

Sharon Crowther in Simons Town gave our spray dodger and bimini an upgrade. Nor we have new, clear PVC windows, all seams have been restiched and some zippers replaced where necessary. Excellent work done!
So happy to have an article published in “Meråkerposten”, the (maybe Norways smallest?) local newspaper of my home town Meråker.

Playing on the last day of the year 2019

A match of cave golf.

Happy New Year 2020!

At the Cruiser’s braaie at the False Bay Yacht Club, cheering for a Happy New Year! From left to right: Jon Petter, Petter and Karen Marie from S/Y Vilja, Edith and Geert from S/Y Thalassy, Susanne from S/Y Nehaj and Joe from S/Y Storm Petrel.

Thursday January 2nd, 2020: A day in Cape Town

Finally Jon Petter could pick up his new passport in Cape Town, 9 months after he first registered the application in Auckland, New Zealand. Due to delays in shipping it from Norway to the Norwegian Embassy in Australia, and then again from Australia to the Norwegian Consulate in New Zealand, we ended up just leaving it in the safekeeping of the Norwegian Consul John Robinson in Auckland. He kindly shipped it to South Africa as soon as we reached the African continent. So now we could finally & easily pick it up at the Norwegian Consulate in Cape Town. So happy it actually worked out!
Rest assure: There will be no giraffe hide rugs in our future home in Svolvær…
Home for the holidays.

Friday January 3rd: Diving in False Bay

We went diving with company Pisces Divers in False Bay. Very professional and well maintained gear. Fun to swim with sharks and play with seals underwater. Recommended!

Saturday January 4th: A quiet day in Simons Town. And right before midnight: A new crew member!

Hey, look who’s here! Einar-Johan Hansen arrived just before midnight on Saturday the 4th. He is Ingrid’s colleague and friend from her previous workplace Enova. So awesome to see him again. Now he’s here and ready to cross the Atlantic with us on Vilja!

Getting ready to go to depart from South Africa, and begin the long travel home.

Our stop in South Africa has been our “vacation”. From now on we’ll be more or less on a constant move to get home to Norway by September 2020. Our 9th week will be a busy one getting ready to go. More pics from this will follow in a little!




December 22-28, 2019: Week #7 in South Africa. Farewell Indian Ocean, Hello Atlantic, Merry Christmas in Simons Town!

We rounded Cape Agulhas in perfect conditions on Sunday evening, December 22nd.

Time to celebrate as we round the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas. Goodbye and thank you to The Indian Ocean. Hello to The Atlantic Ocean.
In the early morning hours of the 23rd, we caught up with our friends Edith and Geert on S/Y Thalassa, and captured this view of them under the moon.
Peter on the sunrise watch.
Jon Petter NOT on the sunrise watch.
Breakfast with a twist; Karen Marie prepared (play dough) pizzas. Unquestionably an esthetic upgrade to our otherwise quite ordinary breakfast of sandwiches.
Ok, we have to admit that we didn’t quite succeed in cutting the chord to the hustle and bustle of life on land this time. Thanks to a sattelite phone and our friend Yuliya, our (for the occasion) «onshore shopping assistant» and Santa’s helper in Mossel Bay, we were able to buy the «Sylvanian Doll House» for Karen Marie that we had the sense NOT to buy while we were on land ourselves.
Our friends on S/Y Thalassa caught this snapshot of us; S/Y Vilja approaching Cape of Good Hope.
False Bay Marina in Simons Town.
Now, a quick look back to our months in New Zealand. We were lucky enough to have the Le Sueur family; Heidi and Gerard, Noah and Samuel on the South African S/Y Ubhejane, as neighbors for many weeks. The idea was to meet them here in South Africa for Christmas, but plans had changed. The Le Seuers decided to stay in the Pacific and settle down in New Zealand(!).
But WOW! were we surprised and amazed to be met by this guy with champagne is his hands as soon as we tied up to the dock in False Bay Marina. He introduced himself as Sean Le Sueur, brother of Gerard. When Heidi and Gerard had seen our update on Facebook about us rounding the Cape, they made arrangements for giving us this excellent welcome to their previous home port of Simons Town. THANK YOU, AWESOME FRIENDS!
Anchor schnaps (ankerdram) for a safe sail and being safe in harbour. We’re so happy to have had Peter with us on this last leg. Not only have we found new friends through feeling connected, but we’re sharing experiences and they have become part of the voyage itself.

A time to pause and be grateful

It’s with a sigh of relief that we round the tip of Cape Agulhas and arrive safely in Simons Town. We quote weather router Des Cason, in his description of the coast we’ve just put behind us:

“The coast from Rbay to Cape Town is considered the most lethal in the world 2nd only to the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia for a very good reason. In sustained SW\S 25-30kts over 24-36 hrs period the effects of wind against current results in survival conditions and the number of vessels and yachts lost on the coast due to rogue waves etc is legend.” 

We are truly grateful to have had a great sail all the way. There has been a lot of planning and weeks of waiting for the right weather windows. We send a BIG THANK YOU to our weather router Des Cason, who has given us useful advice and taken the time to explain to us the characteristics of this tricky and potentially treacherous stretch of the coast.

(Note by the way, we will be sailing along the coast of Canada near the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia in June 2020… But we’ll think about that later… Now is now. We’ve put the Eastern coast of South Africa behind us, and even had a good sail. Hooray!)

Home for Christmas!

So now we’ve moved our home to Simons Town, our safe haven for the Christmas holidays and where we will begin 2020, the final year of our 3+ years of circumnavigation.

Peter (Nilssen)’s Yuliya, Sasha and Max came to meet us in Simons Town. And look who Yuliya picked up at the airport on the way to us:

Look whos’ here!!! Our son and Karen Marie’s big brother Petter, is spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve with us, and is even going to sail with us up to Lüderitz, Namibia in January. What a Christmas present! 🙂
Petter came with many heartwarming presents from friends and family in Norway, and also with some practical and technical stuff for Vilja and our sail onwards. To the right; a new insulated immersion suit (survival suit) for Karen Marie, a gift from our good friend Arvid Påsche. But did we get the right size?!
Some last preparations on the day before Christmas; we found a «tree» (read: branch) in the neighborhood that made for an excellent Christmas tree. Petter and Karen Marie baked the parts for the Gingerbread House, whilst Ingrid baked our traditional (and practically cumpolsory for Christmas) Snowball cookies.


Tuesday December 24th – Christmas Eve Morning

Our friends Yuliya and Peter, Sasha and Max, came over on the morning of Christmas Eve for some very important Christmas preparations: The Gingerbread Hous assembly and decorating! As always so much fun, and especially so when done with such excellent teamwork.

Full focus on the construction assembly!

The baking crew, from left to right: Sasha, Yuliya, Max (i.e. the Nilssen family), Ingrid, Jon Petter and Karen Marie (i.e. the SailingVilja family). Peter’s behind the camera, and Petter was taking a time-out when this picture was taken.
The baking crew feeling pretty happy about the result! One house done, one more to go! (Yes, we made two houses of course; one for the Nilssens and one for the «Viljas».)

Christmas Eve Evening: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

And then it was finally Christmas Eve. Sooo nice to have Petter «home» for the holidays.

Petter got a shark dive in Gaansbai for Christmas. We’re taking it as an experiment in many ways. Looking forward to the 27th. Karen Marie got the most presents, no doubt. Even from family and friends in Lofoten and Trøndelag. We’re the lucky ones!
Taking the time to wind down and start taking in the peacefulness of the Christmas days to come. Petter reading a book, Pappa and Karen Marie moving into the new estate on board; the Sylvanian Family Doll House.

December 23rd, Christmas Day 

Santa found us this year in Simons Town too!

After all the food and galore, we strolled over to the penguin beach next to the marina. Some signs are quite exotic from a Norwegian perspective.


Thursday December 26th. A drive to Long Beach and Hout Bay and driving the Chapmans’ Peak Drive


Friday December 27th. Enjoying the Winelands and The Franschoek Wine Tram Tour

We spent an entire day exploring the Winelands, and doing the Franschhoek Wine Tram Tour’s «Blue line».  We visited the wineries La Bri, La Bourgogne, Glenwood and Grande Provence.  All were good, some great! We especially appreciated the excellent Fine Food and Wine Experience at the Glenwood Estate. The Wine Blending at Grande Provence was fun, to say the least. And The Kid’s Juice & Chocolate coupling at Le Bri was much appreciated!


Saturday December 28th: Morning in Fronchhoek, Afternooon in Cape Town.

We stayed the night in Franschhoek (naturally, concidering yesterday’s wine tasting…), and ha a new kind of tasting experience in the morning in town.

We had som excellent tasting and learning doing «The Chocolate Experience» at Hueguenot Fine Chocolates in Franschhoek.
Take a closer look at this snapshot. See the mouse?! This cat and mouse in the garden of the Big Dog Café seemed to be friends, and the chase and tease went on all the while we were there. It probably still is!
The Big Dog Café was excellent!
Wow, we’re actually in Cape Town! The Table Mountain in the background leaves no doubt.

Wow, another unforgettably fun and eventful week; from rounding the Cape Agulhas, getting Petter «home» for Christmas, celebrating Christmas, swimming with penguins on Christmas Day, wine bonanza in the Winelands and finally a taste of Cape Town. We look forward to entering the New Year soon. But before that som shark diving tomorrow and then some more. Just wait and see!



December 15-21, 2019: Week #6 in South Africa. An awesome week in Mossel Bay. Waiting for weather has never been better!

It was Lonely Planet, followed by this Logo and the following words in capital letters and bold font: “AWAKENING OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT” on the website https://www.humanorigin.co.za/, that led us to make a phone call to book a tour. Who could’ve guessed that this would lead to us 10 days later enjoying our annual gingerbread house baking ritual and the morning of Christmas Eve on board Vilja in Cape Town with these guys:

Meet the Nilssen Family! Wow, how inspiring and fun it has been for us to meet this family on our journey!

In between there have been SO many good shared moments of connection, exchanging ideas and sharing thoughts that have struck a chord and awakened interest for more. All the while we’ve shared many big smiles, laughs and enjoyment in seizing the day. Shoulders down and relaxed, but active. Carpe Diem!

So the intention was to book a tour to learn some history of the area. In the previous post from our Week #5 in South Africa we told about how we already on our first day in Mossel Bay – by making arrangements for a tour – ended up with having a birthday surprise celebration for archeologist and 50% Norwegian-blooded Peter Nilssen together with his wife Yuliya on board Vilja. Here’s what happened after that:

Sunday December 15th: The Point of Human Origins Tour in Mossel Bay

View towards some of the many caves along the rugged coastline at Pinnacle Point. The steps lead up to Cave 13B, where traces of human activity date back to more than 160 000 years ago.

You can’t get much further south on the African continent than Mossel Bay. In 1997 the archeologist Peter Nilssen visited the caves at Pinnacle Point, and realized instantly that he was on a site of archeological interest. It turned out to be more spectacular than he would’ve dared hope for; the findings in Cave 13B (as it is referred to as) date back more than 160,000(!!!) years, making it one of the earliest findings of human origin and behavior in the World! For more information, have a look here: https://www.humanorigin.co.za/blog/

Today’s view outwards from Cave 13B. The sea levels have varied throughout the tens of thousands of years that have passed since humans once resided here. One can envision periods where the sea reached the level of the cave. And others times when vast savannas stretched as far as the eye could see.

On Monday morning at 08:30AM Peter and Yuliya picked up the two sailing families on S/Y Vilja and S/Y Nimbus for an immensely engaging and interesting Cave Tour at Pinnacle Point.

The tour is set in stunning surroundings, which made for not only learning, but also a beautiful little hike.
Yuliya and Karen Marie made friends quickly. Good for our little one to have a buddy to team up with to focus on “here and now”, when the rest of the group emerged in putting the same “here and now” into perspective through long talks about «what was once», a very long time ago.
The history – and engaged and knowledgeable account of it – shared by archeologist Peter Nilssen throughout the Point of Human Origins Tour gave us the ability to see the beautiful landscape we were walking through in a bigger perspective and with keener eyes.
Engaging young and younger, Peter was a source of knowledge and an exceptional communicator. It was amazing how a pile of what at first seemed like grey rocks suddenly emerged even to our unskilled eyes as treasures and history tellers of the past.
The rugged landscape where humans have lived practically since the beginning of our species’ existence!
Ochre – a perfect (face) paint then and now.
An inspired group in Cave 13B at Pinnacle Point, after an amazing tour. From left to right: Karen Marie, Peter Nilssen, Ingrid, Jon Petter, and the S/Y Nimbus family; Matt, Molly, Henry, Avery and Lilly. Behind the camera: Yuliya Nilssen.

Monday December 16th: Fun and inspiration with our new friends in Mossel Bay

On Monday we did the unusual move of going for a short sail in the bay. We’re used to always sailing for days or weeks at a time, so this was an enjoyable change. And all the more fun with Yuliya, Peter & Max (12) on board to share the sail & after-sail with!

Max turned out to be the most talented of the three male trumpeters on board. Now we know what we can aspire to!
“After-sail” with some good food for the body, and also food for thought. It’s fun to feel how engaged we become every time we meet these guys. Simply love the talks and thoughts that the conversations trigger!

Tuesday-Wednesday December 17th– 18th  : Lazy Days

The beach is only a few steps away from the harbor.
In the evening we were invited to our friends on S/Y Nimbus for dinner. Our “Norwegian” sailing friends were also there.

Wednesday was another good slow-mo day in Mossel Bay. Mostly spent it writing on an article, doing some repairs on the boat and simply playing. And wadayouknow! – Two charming snowmen suddenly turned up at our “backdoor”.

Here are a couple of snowmen who suddenly appeared in our South African non-wintery surroundings…

Thursday December 19th: Driving the Garden Route and checking out the (not so) wild life

We are truly the lucky ones: Yuliya and Peter lent us their car, and we were able to explore what lies outside walking distance on the Southern end of Africa. We wanted to see some big cats, and we were curious to explore the Garden Route and coastal towns such as Knysna. So we went for a day’s drive together with Molly, Lilly & Avery from S/Y Nimbus.

Karen Marie & Lilly made sure the batteries were charged with some pink & chocolate-brown carbohydrates before we entered the parks.

Cat Confusion at Jukani Wildlife Ranch and Care Centre! (bengal tigers, jaguars & lions in the same neighborhood…)

So what are Bengal tigers, Jaguars and Lions doing in the same neighborhood? Well, that’s what’s called a zoo, isn’t it. But Jukani is a bit different, as it’s a Big Cat Sanctuary. All of their animals are either rescued or donated, and given a second chance to a life at Jukani rather than being put down. The big cats are either confiscated from people keeping let’s say a cheetah or leopard as a pet, or they’ve been donated from shut down zoos that needed to find a new home for their cats.

Fierce flirt! Mrs Jaguar seems to be having the upper hand.
This White Bengal Tiger was nearly blind. The poor guy was constantly patrolling the corner of his enclosure, no doubt sensing, though not seeing, his cat neighbors and feeling more than a bit protective of his territory.
The King. Finally a cat that belongs in this part of the World, however trapped behind bars.
After having travelled around the World seeing Wild animals in their natural habitat, it was a bit of a turn-off to be in what is so much resembling a zoo.

Still, the visit felt worthwhile, thanks to knowing the fact that these cats are actually saved from the meaningless fate of being put down just ‘cos people didn’t want them anymore.

Thanks also to our knowledgeable guide “X” (which is the short form he uses for his real Xhosa name) who taught us many interesting facts about each of the park’s species, and even gave us this excellent demonstration of his totally cryptic, but cool sounding language Xhosa.

After Jukani we headed on to another sanctuary: Monkeyland. This one felt less like a zoo and more like a walk in the wild. Although the high walls hidden behind the forest makes the mix and density of primates totally unrealistic, but still entertaining.

After Madagascar, lemurs have made their way to Ingrid’s Top10 list of favorite animals. It was fun meeting some of them again, even though not in their natural habitat.
Some down time at the MUSE Fusion Food in Knysna. Check out the strawberries on this pizza…not to mention the cool chic with the rosé ready to give it a try.

Friday December 20th: A South African Braaie at The Nilssen Family’s home

This week in Mossel Bay has truly turned into a week of enjoying time with friends. On Friday evening  we – both the Vilja and the Nimbus families – were invited to Peter & Yuliya for a genuine South African braaie (BBQ). SO nice!

The tradition of braaies (BBQs) seems to be very South African. And we understand why: It tastes absolutely delicious & is a social way of enjoying good food and friends! Here from left to right: Peter, Jon Petter, Yuliya and Matt.
The “kid’s table”, with ages ranging from 5 to 17. What a good gang we’re lucky enough to share our life adventures with!
On Monday we sailed in the bay with Yuliya, Max and Peter. On Friday it was time for the official SailingVilja Crew T-shirt Ceremony, including an invitation (of course) to the Reunion party for SailingVilja crew at Jon Petter’s family’s holiday home on the island of Skjoldvær in Lofoten. The reunion is due to be held during the Summer of 2021.

During the evening, Peter popped the question: «Can I join you for the sail to round Cape Agulhas?». The answer was an unanimous YES!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a lovely birthday girl: Lilly – 17 years today – on December 20th!
More YUM! Later in the evening we transformed from Braaie to Birthday mode. Molly had made Lilly’s birthday cake; Tiramisu. Excellent taste! From left to right: Karen Marie, Ingrid, Henry and Molly.

Saturday December 21st: Getting ready for departure to round the Cape Agulhas.

Or actually, what we spent the day doing was: Strawberry picking, getting lost in a maze and enjoying some last minute time with our Mossel Bay friends. And then, at 11pm, we were ready to set sail.

Despite having a long list of things we should do, we decided to prioritize some down-to-earth family time. We drove to Redberry Farm in George for some strawberry picking and fun.

More or less on the way out of the area, we decided to just take a little walk in the farm’s garden maze. Feeling a bit rushed to get home and prepare for the sail, we didn’t take the time to read the signs and info in front of the maze before we entered into it. An hour of being “totally lost in a maze” later, we finally found our way out. Then we read the sign which pointed out that this isn’t just any small-kiddies’ maze; it’s actually the largest maze in the Southern Hemisphere, no less than 10 km long! Haha, what a crazily fun and untraditional way to get ready to sail! 😉

After an hour of being “totally lost in a maze”, we finally found our way out. It turns out that this is no less than the largest maze in the Southern Hemisphere!

When we arrived home, Ingrid went for some speed shopping to provision for not only the sail, but for the Christmas holidays thereafter. With a black belt in long-term provisioning, the shopping was done in no time. We didn’t go to the shops again in nearly two weeks. I’ve got to say; I like this lifestyle! (So strange to recall how it could feel like a challenge before, if the shops were closed for an extra day or two during the holidays. Haha, what was that about?!)

Our friend and new crew member, Peter Nilssen, arrived with his “support team” at 9pm. We could’ve rushed to get going, but we saw no reason to. The weather window was good and would be sufficient for us to still take it easy some hours. We decided to rather cherish these last hours we had left in Mossel Bay to share some more time with Yuliya, Sasha and Max. Good choice!

At 11pm we were ready to go! Team Cape Agulhas consists of (from left) Karen Marie, Ingrid, Peter and Jon Petter. On the pier stood Yuliya, Sasha and Max and cheered us on. We’ll see them again soon, in Simons Town!

It’s been one week in Mossel Bay, and all we can say is WOW! We’ve made friends and had some good times we’ll cherish forever. THANK YOU!




December 08-14, 2019: Week #5 in South Africa. We sail onwards! From Richards Bay to Mossel Bay.

On December 8th we eyed a weather window due to open up the next day. After a month now of waiting, this was The Window to get on our way to Cape Town, if we were to have any chance at getting there by Christmas. More than fifteen boats were ready to go. We thought we were one of them, but… wait and see……

Sunday December 8th – last preparations and new friends!

Vilja’s latest upgrade: A Conch Shell Horn! Now all that remains is some blowing practice, to transform the sound from fart to fantastic…

First, a quick look back to September 2019 in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas: There we met Rick from S/Y Oceans (USA), who had the most awesome boat horn made from a conch shell. Ever since have we on VIlja dreamt of acquiring the same. A couple of months ago, in the remote village of Nosy Mohuko, Madagascar, we finally got hold of a large conch shell. And now, as one of the last preparations before we were ready to leave Richards Bay, Jon Petter took the time to give it a last “touch” and transform it into Vilja’s very own Conch Shell Horn!

New friends!

Last week Karen Marie made friends with some happy, playful kids at the Zululand Yacht Club. This has given som good, giggly moments and lots of fun.

Karen Marie and Anicia (4) from S/Y Endeavour (and a Richards Bay resident) have been busy bees this weekend.

We shared some brief, but nice talks on the pier with the parents, Aneke and Carlos. On Sunday evening the whole family came over for a visit. They surprised us by bringing some South African staples for us to taste; Milk tart, Fruit Dainties, spices and other treats. We truly appreciated this thoughtful gesture, and getting some last minute time to get to know eachother better. Wish we had more time though, and hope to meet up again in the future, sometime somewhere.

We’ve been lucky to meet this lovely family of 4 from Richards Bay: Aneke, Anicia(4), Nika Ann(7), Carlos and Lucien(11) during our last week here in Richards Bay. They’re fixing up their catamaran “S/Y Endeavour”, hoping to taking her out on some long-distance adventures in the future.

Monday Dec 9th: Ready – Set – Go! Or not?!…

On Monday the weather looked good, and around fifteen boats set off. That is – all except Vilja…

About fifteen boats have set sail heading south. But where is Vilja?!

We also left the harbor, but never got the sails up! For some unknown reason the furling system suddenly decided not to work. Now remember, this is the part we had fixed only a few weeks ago here in Richards Bay. After that, it’s been purring like a kitten, sounding all good. This behavior of utter silence (as if no electric connection) was however a new, unknown one. What was wrong?! There was no other alternative than to head back to port, more than a bit frustrated to be left behind.

Jon Petter and Dan (S/Y Aisling) once again joint forces and did some investigating. It turned out that it was the motor that was causing the problem. And wonder over all wonders: They fixed it! (Not that I’m surprised by the guys’ tech skills. Just impressed.)

By nightfall we were ready to go again. We decided to get some sleep first though.

Tuesday December 10th – A quick reunion with Team Yonder. And then –  we’re off!

We truly believe in Norwegian poet Nils Kjær’s saying:

It’s the delays, the detours and the sidetracks that enrich life.

So also this time, when our delayed departure gave the few extra hours to make this happen: S/Y Yonder sailed in to Richards Bay late Monday evening. In the morning hours on Tuesday we got visitors. So look who’s here!

After three months “doing our own things in the Indian Ocean” we finally met up again with Rob on S/Y Yonder, and his crew Cannel & Fabian. We had a quick match of soccer & frisbee, before we again had to say goodbye. However brief, still AWESOME to see them again!
Goodbye to Zululand Yacht Club. Team Yonder waved us goodbye as we set sail.

Wednesday December 11th – back in focus on here & now

It took but a second from leaving the port, and all the little errands, internet time, and everyday hustle and bustle was left behind. We’re back in focus on here & now.

Long-distance sailing gives extra playtime. On this passage the dolls enjoyed some extra attention. It always makes us happy to get out the beautifully handknitted clothes that have been so generously made for Karen Marie and her dolls by “bonus grandma” Mette in Ingrid’s hometown Meråker. This is such a heart- and bodywarming luxury. ?

Thursday December 12th – We keep on sailing south (but how far can we get?!)

The Agulhas current gave us a boost in the right direction, and a new record was made: 246 nm sailed in one day!  That’s an average of 10.25 knots over a 24 hour period! All we can say is WOW! and YEE-HAW!

Great to finally be back at sea, and on our way south. And YEE-HAW! for setting a new SailingVilja Record: 246 nm sailed in 24 hours, keeping an avg. speed of 10.25 knots!!!

So we’re sailing unbelievably fast. The big question is: How far can we get before the weather window shuts again?! The large group of sailboats that left Richards Bay the day before us decided to stop in East London. But we eye a hope to go further. Again, we’re back to the detailed and intense weather routing so typical for this tricky stretch along the East coast of Africa. We receive daily updates from weather router Des Cason.

First, we decided to sail on towards Port Elizabeth. And finally, on Thursday afternoon, we made the somewhat nerve-wrecking decision to keep on sailing towards Mossel Bay. We felt pretty sure we could make it but were sailing more on the margins than we are used to. The main worry was meeting countercurrents or other unforeseen obstacles. We stuck to our decision, though. We needed to keep a speed of >6.6 knots, which we felt rather confident was doable.

Friday December 13th – St. Lucia Day Celebration, and arrival in Mossel Bay

We’re sailing at >7 knots even without the favorable push of the Agulhas current, thereby increasing the margins and letting us feel more confident that we’ll make it to Mossel Bay by tonight at midnight, when the weather window closes. We lower our shoulders again, and look for alternative entertainment. ‘Cos it ain’t just any day today, it’s St. Lucia Day!

St. Lucia Day celebration includes homebaked “lussekatter” buns with saffron. Yum!

St. Lucia Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) is celebrated in Scandinavia and Italy on December 13th every year. The celebration is to commemorate Lucia of Syracuse (early 4th century martyr) whom brought food and aid to persecuted Christians in hiding in the Roman catacombs. According to legend she wore a candlelit wreath on her head to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible.

St. Lucia (St. Lucy) procession on board Vilja.

We say it again: Family boats with cruising kids in their crew ain’t like «the average boat»; Just as we a month ago were pretty sure that there weren’t any other boats throwing a grand Halloween celebration during the intense sail from Madagascar to South Africa, this time we’re feeling just as sure that we’re the only ones out here on the Big Blue that are having live lit candles and a St. Lucia procession on board on the afternoon of December 13th.

And finally, after the grand candle-lit celebration, we enjoyed Lussekatter & “Jul I Blåfjell” (a Norwegian advent TV-series) at sunset. A true «St. Lucia (offshore) Celebration”! (This was after 3,5 days at sea, and only 2 hours before we reach Mossel Bay.)

We arrived in Mossel Bay On December 13th at 22:00. Just as we entered the port, we could feel the wind turning from SE to SW… Despite a full port with no real space to tie up, we still couldn’t have had a better welcome to Mossel Bay: Henry and Matt from S/Y Nimbus met us in their dingy and led us to the only possible spot to tie up alongside the commercial wall, while Alfred from Port Control met us there and helped us handle the lines.

Google Maps leaves no doubt; We’re in Mossel Bay, and pretty much as south as we can get on the African continent!

Phew, we feel so happy to actually have made it so far as Mossel Bay. Now we’re definitely keeping our hopes up that we may make it to Cape Town for Christmas, and before our son Petter arrives on the 23rd!

Saturday December 14th – Our first day in Mossel Bay, and an unexpected (birthday) surprise!

In the morning we met Errol from Port Control, who helped us find a better spot to tie up to, alongside one of their vessels. There we were sheltered from swell. The local police came to register our boat and crew and were friendly as could be. Thumbs up for the officials in Mossel Bay!
It’s a bit of a distance from the dock to the boat and at times it takes a bit of effort to get to and from land. But there’s practically no swell here, so it’s absolutely worth it.

Mossel Bay – a place with significant history

We had made no preparations prior to our stop in Mossel Bay, so Lonely Planet gave us some helpful hints. First we learnt that Mossel Bay is known for both extremely old (160 000 years!!!) and some (relatively) “recent” (~500+ yrs) history. To take the latter first – the first European to round the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Agulhas was Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. He entered the Aguada de São Brás (Bay of Saint Blaise, later renamed Mossel Bay) on February 4th 1488.

A map of the timeline of the European “discovery” of the seafaring route to India, step by step down the African coast. Bartolomeu Dias finally managed to round the Cape Agulhas in 1488 and anchored in Baia de São Brás (today named Mossel Bay). The rounding of the cape lay the way for Vasco da Gama, when he ten years later was the first to sail the Eastern route by sea and get all the way to India.

We visited the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex on Saturday, and learnt more about the first Europeans that sailed in these waters. A story of special interest, now that we ourselves are sailing in these same waters half a millennium later.

On the deck of the replica of Bartolomeu Dias’ caravel “São Cristóvão”, at the Bartolomeu Dias Museum.
The old Post Office Tree in Mossel Bay. The Bartolomeu Dias Museum is built around this ancient milkwood tree, that has served as a “post office” for more than 500 years. The first letter was left in a shoe or iron pot near or tied to this tree in 1501 by Pedro de Ataide on his return journey from the east, and picked up by the commander of an east going fleet bound for India half a year later. Still to this day the tradition is upheld, and you can drop a card in the iron shoe-shaped postbox next to the tree.

How a string of small coincidences led to a birthday surprise and newfound friendship

It never seizes to amaze us how strings of apparent coincidences add up to some amazing encounters and surprises. In Mossel Bay we had one of those amazing experiences. It started with Lonely Planet’s mentioning of the “Point of Human Origin” Tour that triggered our interest. It stated: «Led by an archeology professor, this fascinating four-hour tour includes a hike to the pinnacle point Caves, where discoveries have shed light on human life from 162,000 years ago.» A quick look at the website www.humanorigin.co.za and a phone call later, not only led to a tour booking for the next day, but to the beginning of a newfound friendship.

Newfound friendship with Yuliya and Peter Nilssen. Little did we know (but maybe we had a hunch ?) that this was only the good beginning of something great. Just wait and see!

Ingrid’s brief talk to Yuliya on the phone and a casual mention of our SailingVilja voyage first triggered the discovery of our mutual interest in sailing, and then the realization that her husband Peter Nilssen (the aforementioned professor, who now “professors” no more, so “only” has the official title Dr. Nilssen) has Norwegian heritage. Peter’s grandfather Daniel Magne Nilssen was a Norwegian whaler from Sandefjord who brought his wife Ragne and two sons (of which Nils Gunnar is Peter’s father) to South Africa in 1948. (Another fun coincidence in the middle of it was to realize that Peter’s full name is Peter John and his sister’s name is Ingrid. Jon Petter & Ingrid, Peter John & Ingrid. Get it?! ?)

A surprise (to us all!) birthday party on board Vilja for Peter Nilssen, our newfound South African friend with Norwegian heritage.

To top it all off, it turned out that today (Saturday December 14th) was Peter’s birthday! On the invitation to surprise him with a birthday coffee & cake on board a Norwegian sailboat who happened to be in their harbor, they accepted. And this is how it ended up with that only a few hours after we had arrived at Mossel Bay, Yuliya and Peter visited us on board for the first time. It wouldn’t be the last, as this was only the good beginning of something great. Just wait and see!




December 01-07, 2019: Week #4 in South Africa

We’ve been four weeks in Richards Bay now, waiting for a weather window to open up, to let us sail on southwards.

Believe it or not; four weeks hasn’t seemed that long. Richards Bay is a good place to be, especially since we’re a whole little community of long-distance sailors “in the same boat” (not literally, but weatherwise). It’s been great to have friends & neighbors from S/Y Nimbus, S/Y Aisling, S/Y Eliana, S/Y Storm Petrel , S/Y Endeavour ++ around. And to a Norwegian sailing family, being in South Africa is exotic and exciting in its own right! Here are some examples:

You know you’re not in Norway when…:

You know you’re not in Norway when… a monkey steals a pumpkin from your cockpit!
You know you’re not in Norway when… you see this warning sign at your marina…
You know you’re not in Norway when… it’s summer in December and you can have a splash fight on the pontoon.

Getting ready for Christmas!

Christmas is right around the corner, and we’re starting to get into the Christmas spirit.

Advent’s here! And with it we’ve picked up some of our favorite advent traditions: An advent calendar for our youngest sailor & every evening watching one of the 24 episodes of the Norwegian children’s TV-series “Jul i Blåfjell” (i.e. “Christmas in Blue Mountain”).
Karen Marie was invited to Nimbus for a Christmas Cookie baking workshop. Here: Molly & Karen Marie display some of the beautiful & yummy creations they made.
Dan from Aisling came over for breakfast one morning. We ended up including everybody at the table in a mini-workshop with cutting snow crystal creations.

A day full of fun

Sunday became a whole day of fun together with our American friends on S/Y Nimbus.

Of course we had to catch the pre-premiere of Frozen II. ? It turned out to be another study in Disneyfied Norwegian/Saami culture and folklore. Fun to watch, especially in good company. From left to right: Jon Petter, Warren (S/Y Eliana), Avery and Lilly (both S/Y Nimbus), Karen Marie and Ingrid. Molly (S/Y Nimbus) is behind the camera.

Taking one thing after the other off “The List”

Jon Petter keeps on working on the boat, taking one thing after the other off “The List”. (All the while also constantly finding new points to add on to it, of course, but still…).

Ingrid has put a good chunk of time into writing another article, this time a “Christmas Hello” for the little, local newspaper in her home town Meråker. This is something which is simply done because we feel like it, but that’s also important!

These are things that make our heart lighter and make us happy doing!

One of the jobs that takes time, doesn’t show that well, but HAS to be done, and gives pleasure to do properly: The bench at the stern in the cockpit was loose, and about to break. Jon Petter did some nice woodwork when making new holdings. Well done!
We also enjoyed the luxury of hiring some good help at making our boat shine a little brighter. For only 250R (plus some voluntary tips) this guy, Manqoba, spent a whole day of polishing our boat. Thank you for the excellent job done, Manqoba!

Time with friends

It’s so nice to have time together with our sailing friends in our floating neighborhood.

Karen Marie and Molly (S/Y Nimbus) enjoying some more Frozen fun. How we appreciate these relationships of trust and shared smiles with our sailing friends.
Claire (from Australia) and Joe (from Germany) from S/Y Storm Petrel came over with beers one evening. Glad to have the chance to catch up on what’s happened since we last met up in Cocos Keeling. Karen Marie did some fantasy filled performances with charades. We must say we’re quite impressed by Claire’s ability to catch on the imitation of a pineapple, a giraffe and many more!
Every morning Jon Petter walks over with a coffee pot and two cups in his hands to our friend Dan on S/Y Aisling. The good talks shared there are treasured, which shows on JP’s smile when he returns after an hour or so. A perfect start of the day!

Also an undocumented good moment of the week was pizza&movie night with Dan from S/Y Aisling. We are again at awe at one of the most amazing stories of accomplishment and endurance at sea, retold in the movie “Shackleton’s Captain”.

Family fun at the Dayspring Animal Farm

One day we visited a farm nearby; the Dayspring Restaurant and Animal Farm. We ended up spending the whole day there. It felt good and relaxing to enjoy the free-range animals and down-to-earth activities, and simply being, laughing and learning together.

These two wonderfully vibrant women, Jenny and Les, were a delight to meet at the Dayspring Restaurant and Animal Farm. We appreciated them sharing their story of how they had to leave their farm in Zimbabwe some years back and settling anew in South Africa. We certainly enjoyed a fun-filled day at their family farm near Enseleni Nature Reserve. (Ps. We had heard the word of Jenny’s carrot cake, and were lucky enough to get not only a taste (yum!) but even the recipe. So to friends and family in Norway; just wait till we’re back, then you’re in for a treat!)

Visiting the Dayspring Animal Farm is a “must-do activity” for (sailing) families when spending time in Richards Bay! https://web.facebook.com/DayspringAnimalFarm?_rdc=1&_rdr

Play pals at the  Zululand Yacht Club

Karen Marie has made friends with some great kids at the marina.

We’ve had some good fun with these great kids at the marina; Christopher(6), Nika Ann (7) and Anicia (4). Yippee!
Nika Ann and Karen Marie enjoying the good life at Zululand Yacht Club.

Checked out and ready to go!

Even though weather is always a factor of uncertainty when planning our sailing progress, this is definitely the longest we’ve ever had to wait for a green light to sail on. And we’re not taking any chances on this one. To quote our weather router Des Cason, whom we put high faith in, here’s what he has to say about what lies ahead of us:

“The coast from Rbay to Cape Town is considered the most lethal in the world 2nd only to the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia for a very good reason. In sustained SW\S 25-30kts over 24-36 hrs period the effects of wind against current results in survival conditions and the number of vessels and yachts lost on the coast due to rogue waves etc is legend. There is no excuse for getting caught in these conditions as all the weather information you could ever need is freely available.“ 

In other words; we’ll wait for the right conditions. It looks like that may happen in the upcoming week.

Here in South Africa you have to go through the ordeal of checking in and out at every port of entry you stop at. In Richards Bay it took us no less than a couple of days just to get the so-called flight plan stamped at the marina, Immigration, customs and police. Now, we’re not gonna even try to claim that this is a fun-filled procedure. But it IS actually possible to make an ok time out of it, when you have no choice!

So we’ve checked out and are ready to go. There might be some Happy Advent Sailing coming up soon!



November 24-30, 2019: Week #3 in South Africa

So we’re still in Richards Bay, waiting for a weather window to move South. It’s been three weeks here so far.

Southerly winds are considered treacherous (or worse) if encountered at sea off the East coast of South Africa. And South winds are exactly what we’re having… Weather router Des Cason puts it simple; “I would recommend you to live to fight another day,” meaning stay put and wait.

We were docked along the International Wall at the Tuzi Gazi Harbor for the first couple of weeks. However, the yachts were “piling up” in the harbor, due to that weather that lets no one continue their sail South. Eventually we had to move over to the Zululand Yacht Club.

On Tuesday we moved Vilja to the neighboring marina; Zululand Yacht Club. It’s a family friendly marina. We like it here!

Luckily the change has given some new opportunities: It’s more peaceful here, and even has a swimming pool and playground (meaning also many kids around). Also, several of the other boats have made the same move, so we still have some of our favorite neighbors around, such as the Nimbus family and Dan Stroud on Aisling.

We’ve rented a car together with Warren on Eliana. Very convenient. It’s nice to be able to drive around on our own, especially since the neighborhood is quite exotic!

Hippo Safari in St. Lucia

On Sunday we teamed up with Warren and drove to St. Lucia. Main attraction; Going on a Hippo Safari on the St. Lucia Estuary.

Eye contact
Karen Marie demonstrating the size of a Hippo’s tooth! Photo: Warren Holybee

Last day at Little Musketeers Nursery School

Monday was Karen Marie’s last day at nursery school. After some days of not wanting to go in the previous week, now Karen Marie seemed to be settling in and finding new friends. The last day was the best one, and as she herself admitted: It was actually pretty fun!

Thank you to the teachers and children at Little Musketeers Nursery School for giving us this special experience of learning, playing and a piece of everyday life in South Africa.

Walking among zebras and wildebeasts in the wild

On Wednesday we went for an afternoon walk together with Dan (S/Y Aisling) and Warren (S/Y Eliana) in the Enseleni Nature Reserve, only a 15 minutes’ drive from the marina.

It’s pretty neat to walk among zebras and wildebeasts in their natural habitat!

Time for celebration!

On October 27th Ingrid’s sister Karen defended her doctorate within the field of Medicine back home in Norway. Karen and the great milestone she has accomplished were in our minds and hearts all day long. We are SO PROUD of her!

HIP HIP HOORAY for Dr.Med. Karen Walseth Hara (Ingrid’s big sister)!

On Wednesday Ingrid’s sister Karen (Dr. Walseth Hara) in Norway defended her doctorate within the field of Medicine. We went out for dinner and enjoyed a bottle of bubbles to celebrate. HIP HIP HOORAY for Dr.Med. Karen Walseth Hara!


We celebrated Thanksgiving with a quite grand feast and get-together on the green for the crew on Eliana, Nimbus, Aisling and Vilja.

Christmas crafts workshop

On Friday we made a little Christmas Crafts workshop. We finally put our stock of shells from all over the World to somewhat (un)traditional use.

Busy bees from Nimbus & Vilja joined forces at a supercozy Christmas Crafts Workshop. With Christmas carols and even some ginger bread cookies we could feel the Christmas spirit rising.

The crafts crew from S/Y Nimbus and S/Y Vilja, all decorated and soon ready for Christmas! From left to right: Henry, Karen Marie, Lilly and Avery.

Sunday Market in Richards Bay

Molly (S/Y Nimbus), Karen Marie and Ingrid visited the local Sunday market here in Richards Bay.

Sunday Market shopping. No worries, we resisted buying a zebra hide. Though we must admit that a couple of other keepsakes have found new homes on board Nimbus and Vilja.

An anecdote on shopping here in South Africa: some enterprises and advertising are a bit more liberal than back home

So South Africa’s turning out to be a bit more liberal on certain things than what we’re used to from back home in Norway… Some of the shops in the neighborhood have some pretty nifty sloguns to advertise their businesses. Take for instance the local “coffee shop”, that advertises with: “Good Food Done Better. Cooking on a High!”. Or the local gun store, who advertises with: “Rest Secured”.

No comment needed from our side. You figure it out for yourselves.

As always: New places, new ways…



November 17-23, 2019: Week #2 in South Africa

Highlights of this week:

*The major technical issues on Vilja have been solved.

*Ingrid has completed an article, due to be published in February in Norway’s leading sailing magazine “Seilmagasinet”!

*Karen Marie attended nursery school, which included putting our parenting skills to the test – and passing (we think?!).

*We enjoyed rhinos, giraffes & more of Africa’s amazing wildlife in Hluhluwe Nature Rerserve.

Also a downer, followed by an upper: Ingrid was down with the flu most of the week. A relief returning to her normal self towards the end of the week.

Technical issues solved on Vilja

Thanks to a teamwork taking on divine proportions ?, we’ve gotten a lot of work done on Vilja this week.

Single handed sailor of Aisling & our neighbor at the Tuzi Gazi harbor – Dan Stroud – has been of great help. Together Jon Petter and he completed the plastic work that needed to be done to reattach and strengthen the connecting point of the davit (for the solar panels) to the stern with epoxy.
The teamwork has been reaching divine dimensions. ?

Also, new bearings have been put in place in the electric furling system for the genoa with good help from Charl Taylor. Now it is ticking like a clock as never before. I can hear Jon Petter pressing the button to furl and unfurl the genoa ever so often, just to enjoy the smooth sound which is like harmonious music to his ears.


Hey, there’s a giraffe walking over there. We must be in Africa!?!

On Sunday we took a taxi(!) to the Hluhluwe Nature Reserve, which is only 1,5 hours drive away. Charl Taylor was our designated driver. Pretty cool to go on safari “in the neighborhood”.

You know you’re in Africa when a giraffe just casually walks by your car…

We saw plenty of giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, zebras, warthogs, bushpigs, waterbucks, nyalas, impalas, wildebeests, turtles, vervet monkeys, and birds ranging from the small, elegant kingfisher to the not so elegant vulture. Our “favorite animals of the day” were the many big black rhinoceroses who came up close to the car, not seeming to care at all about the little humans in awe sitting inside the metal box on wheels.

We shared the good company and a great day on safari with a couple of other Scandinavians afloat: Danish Gitte and Claus on S/Y Margrethe.

“But I don’t want to go to nursery school!”

Karen Marie attended The Little Musketeers Nursery School for another couple of days, on Thursday-Friday. This week wasn’t all fun & easy, since Karen Marie decided she’d rather stay home with Mommy and Daddy. But we the parents decided to insist on using this opportunity for our little girl to meet kids and escape our constant “protecting wings” for once.

We must admit, we doubted what we were doing at times, going through the phase of questioning if it was right to push the constant exposure of our little 5-year old to new people, environments and cultures any further? And this was the first time Karen Marie had changed attitude from being curious to losing interest and even protesting to attending nursery school. It made us uncertain. But after clearing our minds, we concluded that the resistance was more a classic case of testing wills. It put Jon Petter & me (Ingrid) through the test of standing strong on the claim that “Sometimes parents know what’s best and simply decide”.

Karen Marie attended The Little Musketeers Nursery School for another couple of days, on Thursday-Friday.

So we had a good bit of crying and testing of who’s wills were the strongest. We followed it through, though, and Karen Marie attended nursery school. And not surprisingly, she turned out to be fine all day, as long as we weren’t in sight. And Friday was more fun than the previous day. We’ve made a plan that she’ll go next Monday too, then “mission’s completed”.

An extra thanks to the always smiling and caring, though firm, teacher Estelle, who was a good help and made things easier both for us parents and Our little musketeer.

(And hey, we’ve got to smile at ourselves; even though we’ve been parenting for more than 25 years, we’re still learning every day! …to which I guess we should say: Of course & thank god. ? )

Making the decision to stay put in South Africa while milestones in Norway are being passed

Ingrid also had to make the decision on whether she should go home to Norway next week to share a special day of an important milestone achievement in the family? On November 27th her sister Karen will be defending her Doctorate within the field of Medicine at the University of Sciene and Technology in Trondheim, followed by a grand celebration. Although the decision was made not to go more than a year ago, the need to re-evaluate felt necessary now that the actual day was getting near. The same conclusion was finally reached though, in agreement and full understanding with Karen herself: I stay here in South Africa, maintaining the commitment to our TeamVilja family and keeping full focus on sailing Vilja safely to Cape Town.

My place is here right now.

Writing work is paying off!

Ingrid’s been working on an article about long distance sailing with kid’s on board, and managed to complete and submit it this week. And HURRAH! On Thursday Norway’s leading sailing magazine “Seilmagasinet” confirmed that it will be published in the February issue. Great news!

And then some more on our everyday life

So Ingrid was down with the flu practically all week. However, on Thursday things were starting to feel better. Since the right to a reward had definately been earned, both for attending nursery school and for recieving the good news about the article being puclished, the two bookworms on board Vilja decided to go to their favorite place in town: The Library!

On Thursday it was time for rewarding ourselves for a couple of «missions accomplished». Karen Marie & Ingrid made it to their favorite place in town again: The library!
After having been “offroad” for quite a while, we’ve now come to a part of the World where it’s actually worthwhile taking out our foldable, not so robust but functional, bikes. Jon Petter & Karen Marie enjoyed taking it on a first spin. Next mission will be to let Karen Marie test her own two wheels.

Also, we’re getting ready for an upcoming wedding on board!

Teddy is getting married next week to his beloved Bunny Rose, so preparations have started. A first wash in his 5 year lifetime worked wonders. Needless to say, Teddy’s fiancé is quite impressed and love is in the air.

We also discovered the purpose of that great big white cloth hanging from our forestay:  Genoa = perfect picnic shade!

Picnic in the shade of the genoa. It’s getting hot here in Richards Bay, with temperatures climbing above 30ᵒC. Using the genoa this way gave us a moment of enlightenment: “Oh, so that’s why we have been transporting this big sheet of cloth!? How neat!”

We’re happy to say that Everyday life in South Africa is a good one on board Vilja these days. No BIG groundbreaking events, but lots of good moments and a healthy bit of learning.



Nov 09-16, 2019: Our first week in South Africa

The first week in South-Africa has been very good to us: Technical issues on Vilja seem to be finding solutions faster than expected, a lot thanks to help from both the locals and fellow sailors. And Karen Marie has found play pals quickly, having been enrolled in a nursery school after only two days here!

So here are some of the highlights from our first week in Richards Bay:

Saturday November 9th: Vilja arrives at Richards Bay, South-Africa. Geir Ivar Hildrum receives the prestigious title of “Honorary Crew” on S/Y Vilja, as the 4th in the World. (The previous 3 outstanding people to receive this title are Ingrid Bouwer Utne, Brynhild Reitan and Audun Sødal.)
Sunday November 10th: Karen Marie made sure that both dads on board Vilja were celebrated today, on Norwegian Father’s Day!
Monday November 11th: Karen Marie enrolls in Little Musketeers Nursery School. Here teacher Estelle invites the little SailingVilja family inside, making our youngest crew member feel safe and welcome in quite a new and different environment.
• Still Monday November 11th: We go shopping at the local Mall, and realize that we have returned to the modern Western part of the World. We must admit; we miss some of the values that we felt were prevalent in the countries where technology and materialism hasn’t gotten a stronghold yet. But on the other side; we can’t say we mind some of the simple solutions and luxury we find here, like indulging in this AWESOME Lemon Meringue Pie. ?
Throughout the whole week: Mr. Fixit & Taxi driver Lionel (to the right on this picture) and his son Charl have helped make things happen throughout the entire week. Just to mention one: Thanks to these guys we may find a quick solution to our problem with the bearing on the electric furling system for the genoa. Phew!
Wednesday November 13th: Enjoying the social life of the sailing community. We’re one out of maybe 10-15 long-distance sailing boats that are berthed in the International section of Tuzi Gazi harbor. That makes it a social place to be. Although we miss meeting more cruising families (we haven’t met any across the Indian Ocean), luckily we have cruising friends who are young at heart! Truly nice for the whole Vilja crew to meet up again with Warren and Joaquin on S/Y Eliana, who came over for dinner one evening.
Saturday November 16th: Enjoying the good vibes & fun of doing things together and helping each other out within the sailing community. Here; single-handed sailor Dan Stroud on SV Aisling and Jon Petter make a joint effort to reattach and strengthen the connecting point of the davit (for the solar panels) to the stern with epoxy. The davit became loose on the sail across the Mozambique Channel.
Another happening on Saturday November 16th: Karen Marie participated at the Little Musketeer’s Christmas Concert at the Premier Hotel in Richards Bay. A TV Team filmed the concert, and it will be broadcasted on South-African national television in December. We are proud and quite impressed with our little girl’s bravery in standing on her own two feet and giving the changing surroundings and opportunities they offer a genuine chance.

So this was our first week in South-Africa. We are all doing well. We plan to stay for at least another week here in Richards Bay. It’s a good place to be for Vilja and the three of us right now.



Sep 2-12, 2019: Cocos Keeling – Paradise Island Highlights!

So we finally found the spot that defined the concept «Paradise Island»: Direction Island, one of the Cocos Keeling Islands. Crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, coconut palm trees, healthy corals and exotic fish in abundance. This atoll – and especially the anchorage at Direction Island – is known as The sailor’s paradise. We fell in love with it –  surfing down “The Rip” with sharks & and schools of colorful fish of all sizes, spending time with old and new sailing friends, meeting the friendly people on Home Island and West island, and even discovering some unexpected pleasures, such as finding the coolest baker who makes the best freshbaked bread we’ve encountered so far in our 2 year travel around the world. And even getting it home delivered on board Vilja!

You’ve gotta love Cocos Keeling!

Ankerdram (anchor schnaps) for good luck – ‘Cos you can’t be any luckier than this!

The picture perfect anchorage.

DIRECTION ISLAND –  “The Sailor’s Paradise Island”

The first week we were many sailors here -as we had hoped for.

While Direction Island belongs to anyone who takes the trip out here during daytime – After dark it turns into the Sailor’s Island. Nobody here but sailors and hermit crabs. 🙂

Trips to town: West Island and Home Island

There are two settlements in Cocos Keeling; West Island where somewhere between 50-100 people live, mostly Australians. And Home Island, where a bit more than 500 people live, mostly Malays. We «went to town» and visited them both a couple of times.

We paid Home Island a couple of visits. It gave us the chance to stock up on fresh produce, and to learn a bit about the island’s history and culture. Also we especially appreciated the unexpected gift of a batch of home baked rolls from Hayati at the Kafe Ku, who also served us yummy Malay style snacks.

Some Tropical Island time on our own

Then the sailors sailed – or flew; our third-time-returning Vilja crew member Brynhild caught a flight home to Norway.

And us 3 – we stayed! For another week. It’s hard to leave this place! And hey, after all – this is our circumnavigation, and we’re on a perfect tropical island. Why not just ENJOY!?


Designated driver, homebound.

Who said size matters? If only you’ve got style. We took our New Zealand schooner model boat out for a sail and did some nice tacking. ?

So now we’re heading West. 1500 nautical miles NW we’ll look to find another tropical paradise, however with a tragic history. Next stop: Chagos, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)!


July 11th to August 18th, 2019: Photo update from Indonesia!

As we’re getting ready to cross the Indian Ocean, leaving from Lombok,  we just want to post «an avalanche» of pictures showing some of the many good moments from our more than five weeks here in Indonesia.

August 11th-15th: First stop: Tual, The Kei Islands

Vilja’s crew from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia: Our son Even, friend Andreas Øverlie Svela, Karen Marie, Ingrid and Jon Petter.
Having a dip in crystal clear water in the cave of Lian Hawang, only half an hour drive from Tual.
Together. And grateful. By coincidence, and besides relevance, but possibly of more interest: On one of the finest beaches of Indonesia; Ngurbloat Beach on Kei Kecil Island (same island as the town of Tual).
Sun sets over Ngurbloat beach, Kei Islands, Indonesia.
Jhon in Tual – the man to meet if you’re a sailor. He makes things happen; translates, finds mechanics, drives us to sites and does all he can to assist us from morning till evening.
Even & Andreas – Not exactly “not enjoying” the ride. ;.)

We actually did some diving in Indonesia. Finally our brand new compressor has been put to use. We found many good sites for both diving and snorkelling throughout Indonesia, many with crystal clear water and the feeling of being in an aquarium full of tropical fish.

Andreas and Even were the first ones in the water. They made some cool sightings, a “stargazer fish” being the coolest one.

Shopping in new countries can be a cultural study and interesting in itself. Indonesia is no exception.
Shopping at the market in Tual – an intense, but fun experience. Ingrid loves her new skirt in batik, that made her feel not only proper according to muslim traditions, but also beautiful! ?
Karen Marie gets literally “carried away” at any market we visit in Indonesia. Our first experience of this was here in Tual. Being little, sweet and blond is quite an attraction. It gives her opportunities and lots of positive attention, although sometimes it’s a bit too much for a little girl to handle and she pleads for time-out. We try to find the balance.

Our brand new SailingVilja stamp, hand-carved in Tual and given to us as a thank-you present from Andreas. Now how cool is that!? We’ve put it to use many times while in Indonesia, where having a stamp makes everything much more official. So to our future visiting crew: from now on expect to be officially stamped in&out upon entry and departure from our little S/Y Vilja territory.

August 15th-18th: 3 days sailing from Tual to Wakatobi

I love those refreshing, but comfortably warm, saltwater baths during passage. Makes me realize I’m sailing in distant waters far away from the North Sea.

August 18th-21st: Hoga and Sampela Islands, Wakatobi

Visiting the sea gypsies of the Bajau tribe in Sampela, Wakatobi.
Sampela, Wakatobi
Hitching a ride with a sea gypsy in Sampela. An awesome experience.
A true selfie moment.
Pundang (in this picture) and his brother Kundang of the Bajau tribe in Sampela (Wakatobi) invited us to their home for a meal, arranged for us to see their village on stilts from the water using local canoes (see previous pictures), helped us find the best dive sites, and as you see in this picture; even shared their catch of fish with us and prepared sushi on the boat. So much appreciated!
Karen Marie even had her wish come true; to have a live chicken visit us on board. She would of course loved to keep it, and actually had the offer to do so from Pundang, but we had to say no. One more little chic on board would simply make Vilja TOO wild. ?
Self-made sun lotion from coconut cream. And of course, what matters is that it actually protects. However, I must admit that there’s a little voice inside sending thankful thoughts to Nivea for providing me with a transparent formula. ?

August 23rd-25th: Labuan Bajo, Flores

We arrived in Labuan Bajo, Flores on July 23rd, just in time to pick up our new crew who arrived on the same day: Ingrid’s big sister Karen and her husband Sozaburo, and our caring&cool nieces and nephew Cecilie Mariko, Dag Takura and Liv Emiko. We had so long and so much looked forward to this much appreciated visit. Sharing the SailingVilja everyday life and adventures means so much to us all. We had two weeks to look forward to, and it turned out simply unforgettably GREAT!

Tante Karen (Aunt Karen) and Karen Marie. Truly a dream come true for both Karens. ?
True joy in life is being loved. In that sense our little Karen Marie has a lot to be happy about! She is so lucky to experience that many loving people have kept a special place in their hearts just for her. This rainbow dress is knitted by her very special Bestemor Mette in Ingrid’s hometown Meråker in Norway. And not only did she get this beautiful dress, just wait to see more (see next picture)!
Bestemor Mette back home in Norway has spent hours, days, weeks and even months on knitting a whole new wardrobe for Karen Marie’s dolls Nina and Bella Slott. More than twenty beautiful tops, dresses, jackets, hats, skirts, pants and socks. Truly amazing! It warms our hearts to think about all the time and love put into this huge and beautiful gift for our little daughter.
After a week away from tourism, we quickly realize that Flores definitely has a place on the tourism map. The port of Labuan Bajo is busy with charter boats. Still exotic to us though, with their unique Indonesian “Phinisi” boatbuilding style. http://www.kastenmarine.com/phinisi_history.htm
There are always repairs to be done on a sailboat. Dad Jon Petter surely appreciated sharing the job & time with son Even.
This time it was the electric anchor winch that needed fixing.
Happy 25th birthday, Even!
Dag following the rainbow dress code of the SailingVilja crew.
New crew, new impulses: Karen and Sozaburo invited us to spend a day with spa and swimming pool at a hotel in Labuan bajo. An exotic and appreciated luxury for us sailing nomads.

August 25th-28th: Komodo National Park

Another lovely sunset in Indonesia – this one admired by Cecilie and Liv in the Komodo National Park.
OMG! Dragons are actually for real! You can find them in Komodo National Park. Make sure they don’t find you first! ?
The dock in Komodo Village.
The volcano Sangeang Api letting out some steam. View from the Komodo National Park.
Cool dudes sailing.
Tante Karen & Karen Marie had a joint crafts project on the passage from Komodo heading West. They recycled used plastic containers and made them into a sweet tea cup set. Perfect for tea parties on passages, unbreakable and environmentally friendly (recycled). Nina is of course dressed up in one of her new outfits made by Bestemor Mette in Norway. ?

July 30th-31st: Kananga village on Sumbawa

We met Arif in Kananga, and were invited to his home. The hospitality we are met with when we as sailors come to new places never seizes to amaze, and again we are truly grateful.
Jon Petter connecting with Arif’s parents and brother-in-law. Smiles are shared, regardless of language.
Arif is one of those guys who does all he can to help sailors, and can be trusted. He invited us to his home, and the day after took Ingrid and Liv to the market half an hour drive away to stock up on fresh produce. The transport made provisioning a bit of an adventure for the gals!
Shopping sure is more interesting when you’re sailing in distant waters than at home. You never know what you’ll get or when/ where you’ll get it. Here we got lots!
Getting a ride back from the market.
The local gas station.

July 31st – August 1st: Palau Moyo

We paid the reknown Amanwana Resort a visit to have a look at where celebrities such as Princess Diana and others like to recharge their batteries. No doubt it was nice. And we enjoyed our Coladas and Honeycomb ice cream. But actually – in our opinion – we’d rather recharge our batteries on Vilja!

Happy girls; Karen Marie & cousin Cecilie.
Chilling at Amanwana Resort, Palau Moyo.
Karen & Sozaburo at the Amanwana Resort, Palau Moyo.

At anchor off the west coast of Palau Moyo.

We gave Liv a PADI Open Water scuba diving certificate for her confirmation one year ago, and godfather Jon Petter promised her a dive with sharks. So here they go! No sharks on this dive though. Liv did snorkel with sharks in Komodo though. And her Mom got the shark encounter when she was diving in Lombok a couple of days later.
An everyday moment during passage on board Vilja. Karen Marie alias «Bamse Verdens sterkeste bjørn» in action. Brother Even not in action.

Cheers! «Ankerdram» (anchor schnaps) upon arrival at Marina Del Ray at Gili Gede.

Thank you to the all the friendly, helpful and interesting people we’ve met on our way. A special thank you to Jhon in Tual, Pundang and Kundang in Sampela (Wakatobi), Arif in Kananga (Sumbawa Island), teacher Sarah at Miftahul Ulum school in Lombok, interpreter Jumanim and husband Ainun in Lombok,  headmaster Indah and the teachers and children at TK Muyassaroh Kindergarten in Lombok, and to the friendly staff at Marina Del Ray on Gili Gede (Lombok). Our trip would have been so much less without you.

SO nice to meet up with our long distance sailing friends: Pam & Eric on Pied-a-Mer III, Rob, Cannell & Fabian on Yonder, Warren on Iliana, Tim on Intrepid and Christian. You’re our sailing family at Sea and our floating neighborhood. See you again somewhere in the World!

BIG hug and lots of love to our friends & family  who’ve joined us sailing Vilja in Indonesia. Not only do you take part in and make the experience; you are also our precious history keepers whom carry the SailingVilja stories with you in your hearts for sharing with us in the future. Our amazing crew in Indonesia have been: our son Even, his (and now our) friend Andreas Øverlie Svela, Ingrid’s big sister Karen and her husband Sozaburo, our cool&kind nieces and nephew Cecilie Mariko, Dag Takuro & Liv Emiko and now (Karen Marie’s «big sister» & «honorary crew member» of Vilja) Brynhild Reitan. Brynhild shared the last week in Indonesia with us and will continue writing SailingVilja history as we now venture with Vilja together across the Indian Ocean.

We’ve just gotta say it out LOUD again: WE’RE THE LUCKY ONES! …and even more so because we know we are!  🙂


14/7-19 Tual, Indonesia: The coolest gift! And taking in the scents and bustling life of an Indonesian Market

We’ve enjoyed another hectic, but good day in Tual, Indonesia. Saturday was spent diving & enjoying the last hours of having our friend Andreas Øverlie Svela on board: He disembarked before the break of dawn on Sunday morning. And the remaining crew went on land to get some fresh food and try out the market of Tual.

The coolest gift!

Latest news on boat equipment: We now have our very own & one-of-a-kind Vilja logo stamp on board! Hand carved in Tual, Indonesia, where having a stamp is of essence as it makes things “serious”. Thanks to Andreas, who gave us this eminent gift along with a genuine bottle of champagne. We guarantee that both will be thoroughly enjoyed! ?

Andreas surprised us on our last evening before he left, when he gave us this most awesome gift: Our very own & one-of-a-kind Vilja logo stamp!
From now on Vilja’s crew members will get the official Vilja stamp upon disembarkment. ?

Shopping in Tual

Shopping at the “festival market” of Tual is quite a different experience than shopping at home. Far more intense, many more people, heaps of more attention and MUCH more interesting. About the attention part of it: “Everybody” wants to take pics and touch Karen Marie’s fair hair, not to mention carry her away. 🙂 Karen Marie’s a trooper, and is handling the intensity & attention with a mix of enjoying the VIP status as well as sometimes longing for a more incognito travel. ?

You’re able to get hold of “most things” here in Tual. It helps being a “Mr Fixit” though.
Ingrid found a favorite new skirt made of fabric with a traditional Indonesian batik print, and was glowingly happy about it. Even wasn’t too unhappy about his new shirt either!
And little Miss Myklebust found herself a new dream dress. Considering all the attention she’s getting for her blond features, she sure hasn’t come to the point of feeling the need to dress down to shy it yet.
At the local fish market: Looks like we’re having shellfish for dinner – the cook’s uncertain of what kind though…
Tual is on Dullah Island, which is one of the Kei Islands in the Maluka region. Maluka is famous for its spices. So of course Jon took us spice tasting at the market. Here: Even discovered that cinnamon sticks are sweet and tasty, and make quite a good snack for nibbling on in small portions!
We grabbed some street food and took a short time-out from the hectic market life. Did not add the spices available…

Kid contact

Hop scotch is a universal game. As soon as you take out the chalk, the kids – whether it be in New Zealand, Galapagos or Indonesia – instantly start drawing the hop scotch squares on the ground. A perfect starting point for fun.

Hop scotch – a universal game!
Karen Marie’s getting the hang of it!
Taking selfies – Another universal activity.
And then there is fishing, of course. This guy from the coast guard had himself a fine catch of sardines in his spare time. And quite a big audience to witness it also. ?

New tastes!

We’ve now given the Tual cassava waffles a try. We’re intrigued by the resemblance to the Norwegian waffle hearts we know & love from our own home country. But the taste is quite different: Almost tasteless, but with a «hard to pinpoint» blended scent of lard, potato chips and a note of fermented tuna. To be dipped in tea or coffee. Not our favorite, we must admit. But points given for the design!
Yummy dinner ala «Indonesia-Lofoten fusion» awaits!

Now we sail West to find Coral gardens

So now Andreas has left us. We look forward till next time we have him on board!

And then we were 4…

So now we’re 4 sailing Vilja; Ingrid, Jon Petter, Karen Marie & Even. Photo: Andreas Ø. Svela

It’s July 15th now and we’re sailing West, expecting a 600 nm/ 4 days sail. The aim is to get some awesome dives in the reknown coral gardens of Wakatobi. After some intense days on land, we look forward to the peace and serenity of life at sea. That is, if staying clear of fishing boats and FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) won’t keep us too busy…




To sailors cruising Indonesia: Jon Pasumain is the Man to Meet in Tual!

If you’re cruising to Tual, then we highly recommend contacting Jon Pasumain! (tel. +628 22 4871 3457, email pasumaijoni@gmail.com). He helped us find the places and people we would have used aged to find otherwise, or probably missed out on altogether. Jon is a person you can trust. Besides he’s a really nice guy to get to know!

Three good Jo(h)ns (from left to right): Jon (our #1 guide & helping hand), “John the Mechanic” (in the middle, in red t-shirt) and JP. It actually seems like John the Mechanic has been able to fix our pump! It hasn’t been tested yet, but we have high hopes it may work!

Jon fixes “anything” you need, it be transport, (clean!) diesel, laundry, driving to sights or finding the right people, such as an Official outside working hours or an accredited local mechanic. He speaks good English, making things so much easier, also giving us the opportunity to get insight in the places and people we see and meet.

We’re so happy to have had Jon as our helping hand and guide throughout our stay here in Tual. Thanks for an excellent job done & also the good times together, Jon!



July 11th-12th, 2019:  Hello Asia!

So now we’ve reached a new country, and this time even a new continent for our SailingVilja voyage.

On July 11th, Vilja dropped anchor off the city of Tual in the Kei Islands in Indonesia. Our crew at the moment count five in total: Our son Even (sooooon 25) and his (and now our) friend Andreas Øverlie Svela + of course the core SailingVilja team Karen Marie, Ingrid & Jon Petter. Here are some pics from our first day in this (to us) new part of the World.

“Ankerdram” (anchor schnaps) upon arrival in Indonesia, after 7 days at sea from Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea via the Torres Strait to Tual in Indonesia. (Clockwise from Karen Marie: Karen Marie, Jon Petter, Even, Andreas Svela and Ingrid.)

First the formalities

The check-in procedure at the Immigration office was swift and efficient.
Customs came out to our boat, and proceeded with a thorough check of Vilja’s interior. Here; a review of all the medication in our extensive medicine chest. Most cabinets and closed spaces were opened and examined. Luckily – all was good and accepted.
The last formalities are taken care of. And finally – we’re good to go and can stay in Indonesia for months if we choose.

Now we have 5 weeks ahead of us in the same country. Wow, it seems a lot, doesn’t it? Well, Indonesia has more than 17 500 islands. Five weeks will probably seem like a split second. But hey, we’re gonna enjoy that split second to the fullest!

Then another standard procedure

The standard question is: So what broke down on this passage?!

The standard procedure is finding solutions…

Jon Petter is constantly in the process of trying to keep Vilja technically in ship-shape. On this last passage the cooling water pump to our Panda Fischer generator broke down. A new one has already been ordered for shipment to Norway. But in the meantime, we’re hoping that John, a local mechanic in Tual can help us out with a temporary solution. Keeping fingers crossed! Without the Fischer Panda, a lot of the appreciated comfort on board – such as fresh water showers and home baked bread – are put on hold. We sure do appreciate those luxurious perks…

Sightseeing the Kei Islands

So we’re in the Kei Islands, famous for their beautiful beaches and hospitable people. For the Norwegian readers: Note the waffle heart here on this picture! So much for thinking that waffle hearts are something uniquely Norwegian… Here in the Kei Islands they actually make waffle hearts made from cassava (a root vegetable), which they dip in tea. This peculiar version of waffle hearts will definitely be on our menu soon.
A new country means new food: Here “goda goda” for lunch. Peanut sauce may not look too good, but no worries; it actually tastes delicious!
No doubt, we’re in a new country, which means new “rules” and ways to get accustomed to. That’s part of the experience, and we let go of some of our absolutes, while of course also keeping some… ?
We didn’t have much expectations as we walking down towards the cave of Lian Hawang…
…we were all the more astonished to find this deep down. Beautiful crystal clear water to swim in…
…in the most awesome surroundings.
All we can say about the unique «swimming pool» of Lian Kawang is: Wow!
Finally we had a saltwater dip in the Ocean at the white beach of Ngur Bloat.
We walked back to the dinghy dock in the dark, to the sound of the chanting prayers from the many mosques of Tual.

Wow, what a day!

Good night from the SailingVilja voyagers, finding our way in new waters.



June 12th-13th, 2019: Feeling welcome and having fun with new friends in Sola (the Banks Islands of Vanuatu)

We will write more of the places and people that has put Vanuatu possibly on the top of our list as a favorite cruising ground of our voyage so far. But now just a short, but heartfelt update:

We reached Sola on the island of Vanua Lava in Vanuatu on Wednesday morning (June 12th). Right away we felt so welcome here. And we just want to thank two families for including us in their everyday life and making our stay here in Sola very special. We feel like we have friends here that we hope to stay in touch with and meet again one fine day in the future.

We met Bob and Sandrine and their children Ashton, Ashtina and Ashlinda in the village. A good conversation started right away. We truly savor such moments of connection when they happen.
The Pantutun family visited us at home on board Vilja. A special visit for both them and for us. And it was good  to have some more time to get to know eachother.
Our friends, and a special couple: Sandrine and Bob.
The Sola Yacht Club – a meeting point for yachties sailing in the Banks Islands.
Serah and Bob own and run the yacht club and instantly made us feel welcome and introduced us to the traditions and ways in Sola. Karen Marie watched while Serah was preparing dinner for us, to enjoy later that evening.
Heavenly delicious traditional Vanuatu style prepared to us by Serah and her family. Coconut crab, fish, yam, coconut heart, namambe… YUM!
On Thursday we had Robert, Serah and their daughter Zygina on board Vilja for some waffles and sailing. Even after having rund the yacht club for 15 years, this was the first time they had been on board a sailing yacht. Certainly about time, and so nice for us to have the honor of making Vilja their first lady at sea.
Grandpa Kietion was captain for the day!
What a gift it is to meet and make friends! Thank you to Robert and your family.

Thank you for making our stay in Sola special. We hope to see you again in the future!

March 4th – 10th, 2019: Touching our Aitutaki rescuers’ home base in Masterton. (Road trip New Zealand – Part 6)

Bernard & Bianca. Superman & Wonderwoman. Vilja’s Rescuers from Chaos. Also known as Louise & Scott. Remember the couple who made the impossible possible in Aitutaki?

We found them at their home base on land in Masterton.

Rewind to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, October 10, 2018: Remember our broken shroud drama? Well, take a good look at the couple in the top middle; Louise & Scott on the catamaran “Chaos”, from Masterton, New Zealand. We were really hoping to meet up with them now that we were in their neighborhood. So we sent them a text…

5 months ago: Vilja’s port side shroud broke as we were sailing in to Aitutaki, a tiny atoll in the middle of the Pacific. It would normally take weeks and even months to get a part like this replaced, being in the middle of nowhere. Louise and Scott on board Chaos made it happen in less than 24 hours. You can read more about this incredible story in the Everyday blog if you scroll down to the headline “October 17th, 2018: Aututaki in the Cook Islands. Day #7 – Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. (And it sure is a heck of a lot better than any plan I could ever have set up!)”.

Meeting up with this family that had helped us and amazed us through the course of only a couple of intense days in Aitutaki was definitely on our bucket list now that we were in their neighborhood. So we texted them, and they returned an invitation to stop by. Our intended 1-2 nights stay turned into almost a week. And we discovered that not only are these guys our SailingVilja voyage’s Bernhard & Bianca; They are an incredibly generous, cool & nice family and friends!

Life is surprising in so many ways. Imagine sitting at the Chaos’ crew’s dinner table in Masterton, thousands of miles and nearly half a year after we first met them in Aitutaki. It’s so great! In this picture; William (8), Louise & Scott. Alex (11) was off at boarding school the first couple of days we were there.

The work & skill of producing New Zealand’s sweet gold; Manuka Honey

Scott & Louise run a family business where they produce LOTS of honey, or more specifically their brand “Royal Manuka Honey”. Scott took JP along to check up on and move some beehives.

Morning glory: Beehives at sunrise.
Jon Petter got to brush up on his bee keeping skills from 20+ years ago, when he lived on the Norwegian island of Hitra and kept some beehives of his own.

In the afternoon Karen Marie and Ingrid joined to visit the Hillcrest Honey factory, where the Royal Manuka Honey was being tapped that very day. Interesting & yum!

Karen Marie is a BIG honey consumer. Fun to learn about the process from beehive to honey in a jar.

Waiohine Gorge – across high up & a shower down below

Nature can make people seem pretty small. Here: The suspension bridge across the Waiohine Gorge and JP & Scott down below put things in perspective.
We found our personal waterfall/ shower in Waiohine Gorge, below the suspension bridge. We’re assuming you don’t mind that we save the pictures with people “in the shower” for our personal photo album… ?

The vegetation in New Zealand’s forests are exotic to Norwegians. Here is an example to why; the Tree Fern.


Louise said “Forget about Wellington. You should go visit my mother’s and stepfather’s farm in Patuna; walk the Patuna Chasm and spend time at their beautiful New Zealand farm. So we did. And of course, she was so right. The chasm was awesome. And so were Alison & Alan. The hospitality they showed us three Norwegian vagabonds was heartwarming, and new friendships were made.

Alison & Alan run a company; Patuna Farm Adventures. Check this out: https://www.patunafarm.co.nz Walking the chasm up- and downstream is a self-guided walk through stunning landscape and also a bit rough and adventurous. To put it this way: you’re gonna get wet & and you have to leave any fear of heights at home… It’s fun and it’s beautiful.

Walking the awesome limestone rocks upstream, along the side of the Patuna chasm.
On the edge of the Patuna Chasm.

Downstream and “in the stream” of the Patuna Chasm.
Walking the Patuna Chasm

We enjoyed our stay at Alison & Alan’s Patuna Farm to the fullest: In the evening Karen Marie and Ingrid enjoyed the indoor luxury of a “bubble bath spa experience” followed by Alison’s delicious cooking of roasted lamb, vegetables and homebaked bread for dinner. In the meantime, Jon Petter “went into the wild” hunting for red deer with Scott & William – and they actually made a clean kill and brought home food for a feast!

So nice to get to know Alison & Alan. What they’re doing with keeping the beautiful farm, organizing the Patuna Chasm Adventure and being the energetic but relaxed people they are is pretty amazing! But then again; We’ve seen firsthand what their daughter Louise can make happen, so we’re not surprised, just impressed!

Simply “chilling” at the beach house

Louise & Scott “sent us off” to stay at their beach house at Cape Palliser. A lovely spot on Earth. We simply enjoyed having a day to ourselves in “our very own” house, with TV, good food & wine and each other.

Rough seas at Cook Strait, seen from Cape Palliser. The seal colony don’t seem to mind though.
One of the inhabitants of the seal colony at Cape Palliser.

Blueberry & apple pizzas – YUM!  

The Watermill Bakery – open only for a few hours every Friday evening – serves pizzas exceeding our greatest fantasy, in ingredients and even in taste; Nutty Blue Pizza, Purple Thistle Pizza, Apple Pizza and Blueberry & Custard Pizza – all using the same pizza dough base – was not only fun, but DELICIOUS!

Oh btw: Ingrid’s new favorite beer. Dangerously delicious! (But not so dangerous after all – to the wits at least – since it’s only 2% alcohol. Perfect!)

Good times at home – in a house!

It was good to have some downtime at home with our friends. And hey, when you’re on a 3,5 years long journey by sailboat, staying at home in a house (!) feels pretty exotic in itself!

Karen Marie declared that Alex’s room is her “Dream-come-true-room”. Alex let her use all her toys. Oh my, did our little girl embrace the opportunity to the fullest!
Evening fun & looking incredibly smart! ?
No doubt that bed time stories get that extra special touch when read by Alex or William.

Castlepoint Beach Races

Louise & Alex are “horse people” and keen riders. They convinced us to go and experience the annual Castlepoint Beach Races. It turned out to be a really good family event, with all kinds of races; horses, ponies, kids, and even men & women (in underwear!) giving it their all. Fun at the beach. And yes, even our totally untrained eyes can see that horses are pretty magnificent creatures.

After the races we had a walk up to the picturesque Castlepoint Lighthouse.

Castlepoint Lighthouse.
Looking at the sea from Castlepoint Lighthouse. Perhaps subconsciously taking in that soon it’s time to venture out to sea again? But first some more miles on the road…

South Island next!

After six fun-filled days we said goodbye  and thank you to our friends in Masterton.

It’s Sunday the 10th of March, and we have ferry tickets from Wellington to Picton (on the South Island). We’d better get going!


March 2nd-4th, 2019: Wow, what one person can make in a lifetime! (in other words: the Tawhiti Museum in Hawera.) Karen Marie runs in the XRACE. A walk on  the historical grounds of Turuturu Mokai Pa. (Road trip New Zealand – Part 5)

It’s amazing what one man can make in a lifetime! Visiting the Tawhiti Museum is a testimony of such, and it’s the result of only “half a lifetime”.

The Tawhiti Museum is a private museum which is founded, owned and created by (the still going strong) history and art teacher Nigel Ogle.

Nigel has himself created this vast collection of life-size displays and intricate small-scale dioramas that combine history and art with a skill that fascinates and amazes in equal measure.

There are thousands of individually created and handmade lifelike figures, not to mention the many more thousand old artefacts neatly sorted and displayed.

We were so enthralled by the place that we decided to stay in Hawera an extra day so we could visit again. And it was absolutely worth it. We enjoyed our second visit maybe even more than the first, which was also thanks to the staff of the Museum whom must be hand-picked for their jobs, and obviously truly loving what they do.

Thumbs up for the Tawhiti Musum in Hawera!

Karen Marie participates in her first race; the NZHL XRACE

The NZHL XRACE is an annual race and family event held nationwide in about a dozen towns in New Zealand, and also in Australia, UK and the Netherlands. By sheer coincidence we happened to be in Hawera on the day of the big event happening there. More than 1000 kids & parents signed up for the race. So did we – in the Nipper’s Challenge for the 3-6 year olds – with Karen Marie heading the Vilja team.

Super fun for all of us! ?

A walk amongst the remnants of a once mighty maori fortification

March 3rd turned out to be another day of great variety. After the XRACE and the Tawhiti Museum we stopped by the remnants of the Turuturu Mokai Pa, which is one of the oldest and largest pa sites in Aotearoa.

A bit sad to see how the site is overgrown and not taken care of. But still it made for a nice little walk for us. And we bore in mind that on these grounds many dramatic events have taken place here. One of which was that here the Maori, through cunning tactics, defeated British troops in the land wars of the late 19th century.

Where to next?

So now we’ve experienced Hawera, another of those unplanned and pleasant stops. We wonder what’s up next?! We’re getting near Masterton, where our friends Louise & Scott whom we met in Aitutaki live. Hmmm, wonder if they’re home & up for some Vikings?!



February 28th – March 2nd, 2019: Taking in Aotearoa’s (somewhat quirky) wildlife (kiwis, tuataras,…), stunning beaches (Northland’s Southwest coast), cool architecture (New Plymouth) and natural beauty (Mt Taranaki). (Road trip New Zealand – Part 4)

Imagine a bird that cannot fly, with skin as tough as leather, feathers like hair, cat-like whiskers in its face and nostrils at the tip of its very long beak. Well, that’s the description of a kiwi. Since the kiwis are both nocturnal and rare it’s hard to spot them in the wild. We were curious of this national icon of Aotearoa, and wanted to see them and learn more. We found what we were looking for in Otorohanga Kiwi House.

Seeing kiwis (not only this stuffed one – live ones also!), tuataras, eels and many more birds and animals at the Otorohanga Kiwi House. Feeding the eels with sausage on a fork gave Karen Marie quite a thrill!

There were many more animals and birds to see at the Kiwi House. We were particularly fascinated by the tuataras and the eels. Tuataras are known as New Zealand’s living dinosaurs; they’ve been found in New Zealand for more than 225 million years. They are long-lived (100+ years) and have three eyes! The eels of New Zealand swim all the way to Tonga to mate and have their offspring. That’s a long swim, not to mention quite an impressive navigational achievement!

A beautiful beach all to ourselves

Taking in the beautiful view of the Southwest coast from Waitoetoe Campsite.

We found the most amazing spot to put up our tent along the West coast; Waitoetoe freecamping site. We had the place – and the whole beach – all to ourselves. Aaaah, beautiful!

Sunset at Waitoetoe beach and campsite.
Breakfast in what must be one of Aotearoa’s most beautiful “dining rooms”; Waitoetoe Campsite.
Karen Marie at the beach of Waitoetoe.
Dipping our toes in the Tasman Sea at Waitoetoe.
Tree pairs of footprints in the sand. The SailingVilja crew was here…

A quick stop in New Plymouth

We only stopped for a few hours in New Plymouth, since we decided to rather enjoy the beautiful weather by going tramping in the Mt. Taranaki National Park. We spent some time in the Puke Ariki Centre Museum and then had a look and walk across the Te Rewa Rewa bridge.

The Te Rewa Rewa bridge in New Plymouth, also known as the whale bone bridge, perfectly frames Mt Taranaki/ Mt Egmont in the background.

An evening walk, sleepover and morning bush walk in the Mt. Taranaki (Mt. Egmont) Natural Park.

New Zealanders love the natural beauty of their country, and we feel at home in the way they “live and use it”. By that we mean that as Norwegians we enjoy sharing the culture with the Kiwis (New Zealanders) of enjoying the outdoors; whether it be camping, tramping or other.

We’re hoping to go tramping in the mountains and stay at several of the DOC huts of Aotearoa. Our first one was Mt. Taranaki (2,518 metres) and the Maketawa Hut.

Looking out across the valley below and the shadow of Mt Taranaki.

We walked a 4 km loop at the foot of the volcano with only a few hundred metres of ascent and descent. An excellent first-time experience in how the DOC tracks and huts are laid out. We had a great time. And as expected, but all the more enjoyable to experience; the stand-alone volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki is stunning!


The SailingVilja family, with Mt Taranaki in the background.
The SailingVilja family with the SHADOW of Mt Taranaki in the background.
After a 45 minute climb there’s half an hour descent to the Maketawa hut.
Late candlelit dinner in the Maketawa Hut at the foot of Mt. Taranaki.
Sleeping in on Saturday morning at the Maketawa Hut.

After a late breakfast we tramped the return 2 km track through the bush back to the Mt. Egmont Visitor’s Centre. We sure do look forward to experiencing more mountains and tramping in the South!

But first there are some more adventures on the North Island await…



February 27th, 2019: Does size matter? Visiting the shortest (in Hobbiton) & the tallest (Wairere Falls) of the North Island. (Road trip New Zealand – Part 3)

“Famous last words” as we pushed the “Buy” button to confirm the NZD 168 (NOK 1000) purchase of tickets for a 2 hour tour of Hobbiton: “This one’s for the boys”, meaning that our four son’s would probably strongly question our priorities if we didn’t visit the Hobbit’s homestead while we were in their neighborhood.

The first glimpse of Hobbiton – enough to make us all emotional.

It took us 5 minutes into the tour and a mere glimpse of the double-arched bridge crossing over to the Hobbiton mill and the Green Dragon Inn, and we were all emotional and shear enthusiasm. Karen Marie was questioning what in the World was going on?! Well, so much for thinking that our interest in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books and movies was primarily part of parenting…

Ingrid caught in a moment of going nuts with the camera(s), trying to capture some of the million neat little details.
In front of Bilbo Baggins home and its characteristic green door.
The Shire – also known as Hobbiton – is a village of no less than 44 hobbit holes dug into the hillside, surrounded by hobbit gardens and orchards with real produce.
Anybody home?!

The tour consists of a 10 minute drive by bus to the location, a bit more than an hour guided walk among the many hobbit holes of the Shire, a 20 minute stop at the Green Dragon Inn for a refreshing pint, and finally the bus drive back to the starting point at The Shire’s Rest. Thanks to limiting the number of visitors per tour and distributing them evenly throughout the day, the Shire never seemed TOO crowded by Men (e.g. humankind).

Bilbo Baggins seems to have done his washing today, as had many of the other hobbits.

They say the devil’s in the details. Well, the impressive level of details put into the making of the Shire certainly seduced us; the clothes hanging from the lines, the woodwork of the houses, the individually decorated mailboxes, the different tools and equipment, the individual gardens and flowerbeds, food and artifacts outside each hobbit hole. We truly enjoyed it!

An example of the details; a look into what appears to be the Shire’s blacksmith’s workshop.
Checking mail.
The Old Mill.
Gone fishing.
Hobbiton – fun for all ages; even those who haven’t read the Hobbit – yet…

Of course we had to pick up an illustrated version of “The Hobbit” at the gift shop before we left. It’s proven perfect for reading aloud on our drive since then. Too bad the film is rated PG16. I guess we’ll have to wait with that one for a wee bit…

Walking the Wairere Falls Track

In the afternoon we went for a walk (5 km return) along the Wairere Falls Track to the lookout platform with a view from the base of the falls. We’ve many times been impressed by how well made and maintained the DOC (NZ’s Department of Conservation) tracks are, this one being no exception; bridges assist with river crossings and several sets of steps lead to the top of the gorge.

The Wairere Falls is with its 153 metres one of the tallest waterfalls of the North Island.

The walk proved to be a perfect way to spend the afternoon, not to mention finally use our bodies a bit after many days of lazy living.

Does size matter?

So to sum up the day and answer the initial question; Does size matter? Following today’s experience the answer is no. Or if anything; the “littleness” of Hobbiton won our hearts today.

Camping life

Brocks Place turned out to be a nice place to camp. 24 NZD per night, the location (only 2 km from Hobbiton), ok facilities and a stunning view of the hills and valley of Matamata made it a good deal.

Enjoying breakfast Thursday morning . We’re ready to pack up and go. At this point we haven’t decided where to go next though.

Where are we going next? Well that remains to see. We’ll have to stop the car before the intersection below the farm and make up our minds. There are so many tempting options and opportunities…



February 25th-26th, 2019: Personal delivery of mail from Galapagos to an Auckland home. A visit to the maori Kingitanga’s “marae”. A closer look at National Geographic’s 50 most awesome photographs. (Road trip New Zealand – Part 2 – Auckland to Matamata)

So we’re off! First stop was a very special delivery of mail to an address in Massey, Auckland. We visited Floreana Island in Galapagos on July 2nd, 2018. Following the tradition of the island’s postal system (see fact sheet below), we picked up a postcard there that was addressed to a certain Sam & Mike in Auckland. ‘Cos hey, we were heading for New Zealand, though by sailboat…

Now – nearly 8 months and more than 6000 nautical miles later, we were finally in Auckland, ready to deliver the card in person.

So there was nobody home. A bit of a bummer… Oh well, we’ll try stopping by on the way back North. We left the postcard in their mailbox, though, so: Mission accomplished!

Camping in New Zealand – lesson 1

 We left Auckland in late afternoon, so our aim for the evening was to get out of town and find a place to put up our tent before dark.

The first thing we had to figure out though were the rules for tenting in New Zealand. In Norway you’re allowed to put up a tent pretty much anywhere, at least if you’re “in the wild”. Here it’s prohibited to tent outside designated camping grounds with toilet facilities. Considering the large amount of tourists –many of them backpackers – that travel around in New Zealand, it’s an understandable rule. So we’ve downloadad some excellent Apps; “CamperMate” and “Rankers Camping NZ”, which have so far proven to be excellent tools in helping us find camping areas.

CamperMate showed the way to freedom camping at Te Kauwhata Domain. Simple, but good. We enjoyed the simplicity of tenting life again. Favourite moments; snuggling up with Karen Marie in the sleeping bag before ready for a night’s rest. And the sound and scent of brewing coffee in the early morning hours on the gas cooker. Mmmmm….

A visit to the Maori Kingitanga’s «Turangawaewae Marea»

I’m totally encaptured by the history of the very special woman Te Puea Herangi; her person, life, and work for the maori rights, as written in her biography written by Michael King. (See fact sheet below.) She initiated the establishment of a marae (a communal or sacred place that serves religious and social purposes according to Maori culture and traditions) at Turangawaewae in the Waikato district.

We were driving very near this location. The marae is not open to tourists. Ingrid’s wish was to simply stop and see if there was anything to be seen? And there was! We met a friendly woman named Vinny Kingi who works with administration at the marae. She let us in and told us more of the history and use of the marae and the story of Te Puea and the Kingitanga.

From our visit at the Turangawaewae Marea, established by Te Puea Herangi, or Princess Te Peua as she was also called. Vinny, who was so kind as to take the time to tell us about the marae did not wish to have her picture published. Nor could we take pictures of the sacred buildings. So a family portrait of us inside the marae with a view away from the meeting house and the King’s residence will have to do…

Ingrid was so happy to see the marae and be at the actual place of events that are described in the book “Te Peua” by Michael King. The history of Aotearoa/ New Zealand and its people continues to interest and fascinate us. Thank you, Vinny, for letting us in to the marae and taking the time to show us around and tell us some of the many stories. It was truly interesting and meant a lot to us.

Fantastic photos, learning and fun at the Waikato Museum

Next stop was the Waikato Museum. An excellent museum, with a diversity of things to see & learn.

The exhibition “50 Greatest Photographs by National Geographic” was enticing. Fun to discover a Norwegian photographer represented among the 50; Børge Ousland and his awesome photography of the view from his tent, looking directly into the eyes of a polar bear.
Looking at the original drawings and the making of Lynley Dodd’s newest children’s book “Scarface Claw” was fun for SailingVilja’s bookworms Ingrid & Karen Marie. Taking a closer look at the majestic Te Winika, a 200-year-old carved waka tune (Maaori war canoe) was interesting. And the “Exscite Science Gallery for Kids” was perfect for Karen Marie. We especially loved the garden with a bunch of knitted vegetables and fruits for the children to plant and harvest. So fun for our 4-year-old. ?

Tenting with a view of the landscape of the hobbits

Feb 26th: We’ve put up our tent at the camping ground Brocks Place in Matamata. Hey, haven’t we seen this view before?! Well, we’re only 2 kms away from a certain Hobbiton… we may just pay the neighbors a visit tomorrow…



February 21st-25th, 2019:  First stop Auckland. Our roadtrip begins! (Roadtrip New Zealand – Part 1)

The Sailingvilja crew has hit the road! We’ve started out on a roadtrip by car, aiming to explore the North and South Island, and maybe even the southernmost Stewart Island, if we get that far? Meanwhile Vilja is safely on a mooring in Opua having a well-deserved time-out from her SailingVilja family.

First; here are some facts & numbers of the country itself; New Zealand, or Aotearoa which is its name in Maori. We include the equivalent facts about Norway, just to put it in “our perspective”.

So as you can see, there are obvious similarities, but also some obvious differences. From our Norwegian perspective being in New Zealand sometimes gives us a feeling of being home, e.g. the informal “down to earth” way of being, the convenience of “Western standard”, the culture of being outdoors tramping in the forest or mountains and doing outdoor activities, etc. Other times this country feels truly exotic, like the “odd” trees and huge ferns that grow in the forests, the wildlife with unfamiliar bird sounds and the eternal sound of cicadas, the maori history and culture, the volcanic landscape and soil. We can’t wait to explore this country further!

So we started off by taking the bus to Auckland. We instantly went into “going on holiday” mode. Here Karen Marie’s enjoying her lunch “New Zealand style” (a tradition that we picked up while she went to Te Waenganui childcare centre). Every little room holds its own little treat. Fun & yum!

4 days of getting absolutely spoilt in Auckland

So what’s in Auckland? Never mind the city; the single most important answer to us is: FRIENDS! We made friends with a family on the H-pier in the Bay of Islands Marina over Christmas and New Years; Pip, Russ & Dan. We shared some very interesting talks and real good laughs over the weeks we were “neighbors” there. ? Anyway, this family are not only nice people, they’re incredibly generous. Of course we felt lucky when big chunks of fresh and smoked blue marlin came to our table thanks to our neighbors’ fishing skills. And being invited to visit them in Auckland was something we looked forward to. The way they made us feel like we were at home when we arrived – even though they themselves were away on business – is not something “normal”; it’s special, and we know it. Not to mention – and this says it all really – they gave us the INCREDIBLY generous gift to lend us their car for our whole roadtrip!!!

So this is where we were heading now; to Auckland to pick up our very nice Mazda 3. And at the same time meet Dan (19) and Russ’ Uncle Rob, who were at home in Auckland.

Dan and Uncle Rob made us feel so at home, and at the same time treating us like special guests making delicious 3-course gourmet meals and spending time with us. We felt lucky & loved it!

Uncle Rob (or Robert) picked us up at the bus stop, and we headed home.  We were happy to find that Robert is just as nice as the rest of the family we already knew. And an unexpected gift for us was his skills as a chef. We enjoyed gourmet dinners every single evening.  All we can say is Wow! and Thank you!

Friday 22/2: Fun & learning at the Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

We arrived on a Thursday. On Friday Dan and Robert took us to the Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. Great fun & fascinating.

A fun and educational visit to the Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium.

Saturday 23/2: Catching up with Meeghan, our mermaid friend from Aitutaki

On Saturday we met up with our mermaid friend from Aitutaki; Meeghan, who is home in Aoteroa to visit friends and family. SO nice to meet this warmhearted cool mermaid again, whom was one of the people who made our stay in Aitutaki so special. Meeghan was staying at a friend’s house, which gave us the unexpected opportunity for Karen Marie to play with a little playmate and her dream barbie house.

Meeting up with Meeghan in Auckland. Meeghan is our mermaid friend from Aitutaki. A bonus was the intimate little concert she gave us. Groovy.

Now we’re crossing our fingers that we’ll see her again on Vilja for a sail and some diving before we leave New Zealand. By the way, Meeghan’s heading back to Aitutaki in a while to work with a project on planting new corals to preserve the coral reefs. Interesting to hear about how they make the coral growth accelerate by using special techniques. We wish her good luck with that important job to save the coral reefs of Aitutaki.

Sunday Feb 24th: A visit to the Honorary Norwegian Consul of Auckland

On Sunday Feb 24th we met the Honorary Norwegian Consul for Auckland, Captain John Robinson, to apply for renewal of Karen Marie’s passport. Seldom have we met a person who manages to combine in such an excellent way professionality and respect for the office he holds, with friendliness and helpfulness. Thanks to his solution-oriented approach, we found answers to a number of small and not-so-small issues regarding all three of the family’s passports, e.g. Jon Petter’s milk-soaked passport to mention one of them…

On Sunday Feb 24th we met the Honorary Norwegian Consul for Auckland, Captain John Robinson, to apply for renewal of Karen Marie’s passport. Note Karen Marie’s somewhat “stiff” smile, due to a profound reluctance to let go of her old beloved one.

Monday Feb 25th: Off we go, heading South!

Monday arrived, and we were finally ready to start our roadtrip. We’re leaving the comfort of Pip, Russ & Dan’s lovely home and Uncle Robs delicious cooking. But we’re also looking forward to the camping and tent life ahead of us, not to mention exploring the North and South Islands. And we already really like our very nice Mazda 3. No offence, Vilja! ?



January 7th, 2019: Happy New Year 2019! Celebrating with new friends in Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

Happy New Year to our family and friends in Norway and around the World!

Our New Year’s celebration was unplanned, and all the more full of unexpected and good events. We even made new friends. What a gift. It reminds us of how lucky and happy we are to be on this journey, and how reality is so much better than our imagination can comprehend!

Happy New Year from Ingrid, Jon Petter & Karen Marie!

We are in the Bay of Islands, in the NE of New Zealand. Our only initial idea for New Years was to find a good spot to drop our anchor and look at the fireworks on land from the waterside.

So first we found the people…

Sandra & Jonny, new friends who joined us for some sailing and island hopping in the Bay of Islands, and whom we ended the old year and began the new year together with. Great fun!

Then we met a very nice couple; Sandra and Jonny at the Yacht Club right before Christmas here in Opua. Sandra is originally from Germany and Jonny from England, but have lived in NZ the past 6 years. When we sent them an sms asking if they wanted to join us for the sail, they phoned us back instantly and said YES! Our gut feeling about the two was correct; we had a really good time together and 3 days turned into 5 before they had to return to their home near Auckland.

—then we found the place…

Sunrise on the last day of the year 2018 in the peaceful and beautiful Wairoa Bay in the Bay of Islands.

…then we found a whole party of people!…

And would you believe it? Of the very few people we know here in the district of BOI it turned out that we actually knew the couples on two of the only handful of boats that were anchored in the Wairoa Bay. Well, truth be told we didn’t really “know” them; We had just briefly met them before at the market in Russell, when Kerri had face painted Karen Marie and told us about being a liveaboard, and then introduced us to another sailing couple; Babs and Jon. We liked them all instantly, but parted with no plan. Until now, when we by coincidence bumped into each other here.

Being as you know “The lucky ones”, we were invited to join them in their New Year’s celebration on the beach. Isn’t it amazing how things just seem to always work out!? Perfect!

New Year’s Barbeque Party on one of the Te Paki Islands in the Wairoa Bay with (clockwise from left) Jon, Babs, Kerri, Phil, Jonny, Sandra, Karen Marie & Jon Petter.
Jonny & Karen Marie; buddies & adventurers.
Sandra & Ingrid, enjoying a Summer New Year’s celebration with newfound friendship and the peace of mind that sailing life and taking things as they come allow for.

…and then we put 2018 behind and welcomed 2019!

The sun goes down for the last time in 2018. Jon Petter took a time-out to take it in.
Sharing the turn of the year with good people on a peaceful beach in the light of a bonfire. Karen Marie dozed off in the kayak, wrapped up in blankets. Ingrid & Jon Petter served an undecently strong, warm and spicy cup of homebrewed gløgg to round off the old year. Life is different than at home, but it’s a good different.

2019’s looking good so far!

So now we’re into 2019. We look foreward to discovering what it will hold!?

True to tradition, Karen Marie started the year off with unsentimentally smashing the gingerbread house! ?
On January 2nd we sailed to the beautiful, though busier Otaio Bay on Urupukapuka. There are trails there to walk with beautiful scenery over the Bay of Islands. (Ps. Vilja is safely at anchor a bit “to the right of the middle” in this picture).
Picnic in the green.
Every morning Jonny B made his own freshly made and very warm espresso for us. Aaahh. Wonderful!
Babs and Jon out kayaking. Their self-built sailboat «New Zealand Maid» is in the background. What a wonderfully nice and interesting couple to meet and get to know better.
Jon’s book “Snow Petrel – A Father-Son voyage to the windiest place in the world” is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.fr/Snow-Petrel-Father-voyage-windiest/dp/1723728101

Babs and Jon invited us over for a movie night on board. We watched the movie about when their son Ben Tucker sailed on his sailboat “Snow Petrel” from Tasmania to Antarctica with his youngest brother Matt and dad Jon as crew. An amazing journey to learn more about, and such a special experience for us to watch it together with Jon and Babs, who are both so much part of this story. (Ps. Jon wrote a book about the journey; “Snow Petrel – A Father-Son voyage to the windiest place in the world”, available on Amazon)

Babs and Jon are the kind of people we just long to have more time with. We feel so much in common, and so interested in getting to know them and their stories better. We’ve already met up with them once again since we returned to the marina, and are looking foreward till next time!

Jon & Karen Marie “telling each other” a goodnight story when Jon and Babs came over for dinner the other day. ?

 2 new crew members qualified for our (very green) crew t-shirts!

So they made it, no doubt: Sandra & Jonny qualified for our (very cool & green!) crew t-shirts after having sailed with Vilja for 4 days in the Bay of Islands. Hoping to see these guys on board and on land many more times!

Thank you for sailing with us, Sandra & Jonny, and for all the good talks, fun, food and hot coffee!

Vilja’s out of the water, and ready for some “spa treatment”

Jon Petter ready for 2019, looking a little bit older but less wiser than last year… ?

So now we’re back in the marina, and our lazy days are over for a while. Vilja was hauled out of the water today. She’ll stay on the hard for a week getting her regular and well deserved “spa treatment” with rubbing, anti-fowling, polishing, etc. plus some “specials”, like changing the rigging and strengthening the sails.

Her we go again! 8 months since last time Vilja was hauled out in Martinique. We’re ready to give her some more well deserved love & care her in the Bay of Islands Marina and Boat Yard in Opua, New Zealand. ?



November 21st, 2018: Bye for now & see you again soon, Opua! A taste of island hopping (Roberton Island) in the Bay of Islands on our way to work(!).

Some “seaworthy” words of wisdom found on the wall in “The Old Store Fish & Chips” in the Marina.

We stayed 6 days in Opua after arriving in New Zealand. OMG, how simple life seems here; Getting to land simply by stepping down onto the pontoon, connecting to electricity and water on land (meaning warm water and long showers, to mention one of many perks), having decent internet, chandleries (boat shops) and a boatyard offering most any equipment or assistance we need for the boat, a food store with familiar food, everything spoken and written in English, just to name some examples. We loved life on the Pacific Islands, but can’t deny that having access to most everything feels very ok for a change. ?

Opua Marina in the Bay of Islands, where we stayed for 5 days. We may come back for Christmas!

We are by the way frrreeezing cold! 14ᵒC at night made us get out our winter down duvets. Spending nearly a year in a tropical climate has temporarily screwed up our inner thermostat. Good that summer’s just around the corner!

Another shroud broke

Another shroud snapped after we arrived in Opua. This worries us, since this is the second one that gives in in a month (the first one snapped in Aitutaki of the Cook Islands). We’ve now decided to have the whole rigging (in Norwegian: “den stående riggen”) renewed, and have booked time to take the boat up on the hard in Opua in January. Possibly we’ll spend Christmas here(?).

Audun at work up the mast – again.

But until then, the one broken shroud had to be replaced. This delayed our departure, but we’re glad to have it done. And the extra time gave us the opportunity to get to know some more fantastic long-distance sailing families. We hope to see them again – in New Zealand or somewhere out on the Seven Seas.

Now we’re on our way to work!

On Tuesday we finally were on our way to work(!). Work?! Yes, we’re heading for the Great Barrier Island, where a family is expecting us to come this week to start a 3 week “Workaway” commitment we’ve signed up for. We’ve really looked forward to this ever since we contacted them half a year ago, so now we are anxious to get there and begin!

A taste of island hopping in the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is known to be one of the absolute best cruising grounds in New Zealand. We’re taking the time to get a taste of it on our way South. We left on Wednesday, and only sailed a few nautical miles out to Roberton Island (Motuarohia) before we dropped the anchor.  It turned out to be a great spot to spend the night!

The island has an interesting history; Captain Cook was the first European who set his foot here in 1769, and the encounter with the 300 Maori that lived on the island at the time was dramatic but without bloodshed. The same can unfortunately not be said of what happened seventysomething years later, when the widow and children of John Roberton, the first European owner of the island, were tragically killed with an axe by a Maori chief’s son who sought revenge for having been abused by a farm worker (whom he also killed). The murderer was hanged. This was the first hanging in New Zealand, and made a clear statement that British law had replaced the Maori tradition of utu.

View from and of the Roberton Island, one of the interesting and beautiful islands in The Bay of Islands.

Apart from the island’s dark and dramatic story from the past, the Roberton Island is a beautiful little island with a lagoon, and rock formations and caves that make you want to explore. So explore we did, although following the tracks…

Audun, Karen Marie and Jon Petter exploring Roberton Island. (PS. Our winter apparel reflects our confused physical «thermostat» more than it does the actual climate. We’re freezing cold in temperatures of 14-20ᵒC, after having spent a year in a tropical climate…)

Sailing South

Today (Wednesday 21st) we sailed South along the East coast of the Northern Island. Our destination for the night: Tutukaka Bay. Audun was in charge of the sailing (and some motoring) all the way, allowing the rest of us to do other things we had set our minds to. It’s good to be lazy!

We rounded Cape Brett, thereby saying goodbye to the Bay of Islands for now. The lighthouse at Cape Brett was by the way the first light and sign of New Zealand that we spotted at 01:00 am one week ago when we came sailing from Tonga.
Karen Marie & Jon Petter – not exactly focusing on the sailing nor the surroundings, but having fun all the same!
We had a good sail. There were several oddly shaped rocks sticking up from the water along the way. Here: Audun points towards what appears to be an elephant or elk(?) coming out of the water.

We’ve now dropped our anchor in Tutukaka Bay. It feels a bit surreal that we are only one day’s sail away from our destination for the upcoming 3,5 weeks; the Great Barrier Island. It seemed so incredibly far away and long till when we first applied for a job there 6 months back. But now we are practically there. Awesome! ?


November 14th, 2018: WE’VE REACHED NEW ZEALAND!!!

On Wednesday November 14th, 2018 at 00:30 pm Vilja arrived in Port Opua, New Zealand. There were four happy sailors who put their feet on solid Kiwi ground: Karen Marie, Jon Petter, Audun Sødal and myself (Ingrid). A milestone has been achieved. To us this is a BIG one.

Just to give you an idea of the lengths and time that have been put into this, we give you some numbers.


We’ve sailed for 16 months now, covering a total distance of 18,039 nautical miles. It turns out that we were halfway from Norway to New Zealand (in distance) when we transited the Panama Canal. But we used more than twice the time to sail the first half.

On June 14th we left Balbao in Panama, thereby starting our Pacific Ocean passage. In exactly 5 months we have sailed 9,124 nautical miles. This has taken us 1,481 hours in pure sailing, i.e. the equivalent to 62 full 24-hour days. So to put it this way; 2/5 of the time that Vilja has had her hull in the Pacific Ocean (so far) she’s been “free” and doing what she does best: sailing! The other 3/5 she’s had her anchor dug into the seabed (or actually 6 of the nights she was moored to a buoy and 5 nights in a marina berthing). That’s if you count hours. But of course, we haven’t spent “62 days straight” at sea. We’ve split our sail into 17 stretches. On average we’ve been “night sailing” half of all nights (80 nights) and been “at land” the other half (73 nights).

For me (Ingrid) personally it was San Cristóbal (Galapagos), Mo’orea (French Polynesia) and Aitutaki (Cook Islands) that put the deepest imprint in my mind and memory. I will tell more of these tales if I find inspiration and time to write AND the internet connection that allows me to post it while I’m here in NZ.


We’ve shared our sailing passage across the Pacific Ocean with special friends and family. Otto Inge Molvær shared with us the milestone of “crossing continents” transiting the Panama Canal. He sailed with us (from Martinique) to Galapagos. Our son Anders and friends Ingrid Bouwer Utne and her son Jonas Utne Skogdalen spent adventurous days with us in Galapagos. Brynhild Reitan shared the unexpected adventures of “the lost motor” and all that came with it in San Cristóbal (Galapagos), and then sailed with us over the longest single stretch so far: 3,000 nautical miles from Galapagos to Marquesas. Then we spent 2,5 weeks from the Marquesas islands to Mo’orea with a new friend in our lives; Sophie from Berlin. And finally, there’s Audun:

These last two months and 3,000 nautical miles from Tahiti we’ve sailed together with our friend Audun from Trondheim. We’ve enjoyed and are impressed by how he’s gone wholeheartedly into our SailingVilja life, whether it be; the adventure of travelling to and in distant and exotic places; the long-distance sailing life including the unexpected challenges and turn of events that tend to occur; and most of all the everyday life and all the ups and downs of three individuals aged 4-52 years old who are themselves exploring the World and Life itself. One thing’s for sure: Audun’s made sure that there’s been more music and play than ever on board Vilja these last couple of months. We feel lucky to get to know him the way this voyage has made possible, and thereby having it confirmed tenfold that he is an incredible person and a very good friend!


Long-distance sailing is in our blood now. We love the long stretches. We feel they give us the time we really need to digest the flow of impressions from all that we experience on land. These impressions and all the thoughts that follow in their wake need time to sink in and find their natural place in our consciousness and memory. And also, the sailing gives us time alone to each other and ourselves. Not to mention, it gives us time to enjoy the fun and adventure of sailing on the big ocean!


If anybody 10 years back had suggested to me (Ingrid) that I would be spending years of my life sailing in the future, I think my response would’ve been simply: “Why?!”  Let me remind you (and myself): I spent the first 40 years of my life without feeling the least bit of interest for sailing. I lived in the harbor town of Trondheim for more than 20 years before I actually set my foot in the harbor for the first time. Why? Because then I couldn’t care less about the sea. Urban life was my everyday life. If I needed to find peace of mind, I looked away from the water, and towards the mountains.

Well, that’s history. I’m a long-distance sailor now. Life is full of unexpected turns. For me this is definitely one of them. And hey, considering that the oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, my World has extensively increased over the last few years. That feels pretty cool!


And back to our Pacific Ocean passage: We wish we had more time to explore life on land on the hundreds of islands we’ve passed and the few places we’ve been. But we’re so thankful for the time and experiences we actually have had. Also, we intend to sail back up to the Oceanic islands next Spring (2019) and spend a few months there before we head on westwards.

And hey, let’s not forget that we ARE on a Pacific island as we speak: New Zealand. We’re more than excited about actually having 5 months ahead of us to explore one of the countries we’ve been wanting to visit all our lives. So here we are & here we go!


October 17th, 2018: Aututaki in the Cook Islands. Day #7 – Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. (And it sure is a heck of a lot better than any plan I could ever have set up!)

Our sailing plan said: One (1) night in Aitutaki.

Reality said: Yeah right…

We’ve been here 7 nights now, and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

Why? What happened?

The Universal answer is of course: LIFE. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”

The more non-philosophical facts are: The shroud on Vilja’s port side broke (in Norwegian: “vantet” som holder opp masta på babord side røk nærmest tvert av). There was no drama, other than the unavoidable moment of despair: OMG – what happens now? We’re in the middle of no-where. Aututaki – we probably would never even have heard of this island if it hadn’t been the nearest check-in point for visiting the island Palmerston, which was our actual goal of all of the Cook Islands.

The shroud on our port side suddenly snapped (in Norwegian: vantet på babord side røk). This is NOT good. Suddenly we could go nowhere until this was fixed.

So there we were last Wednesday (the 10th) at the break of day, outside the reef of an island of 1200 inhabitants in the middle of the Pacific (read: in the middle of nowhere) with a broken shroud. On top of it all our pilot warned us that the pass in through the reef is only 1.6 meters deep. Our draught is 1.9 meters. A local fisherman passed by. He assured us that the pass is 2 meters deep. We decided to make a go for it.

The pass IS only 1.6 meters deep. For a moment we were stuck on a sand bank. Our bow thruster was put to the test. A slight swell lifts the keel up from the sand bank for a moment, enough to let Vilja glide on into the lagoon. We’re in! (Will we get out again?!)

Then we met this family (see picture below):

Our heroes and rescuers; The family on board Chaos.

Long story short: Thanks entirely to this uniquely SUPER family on board the catamaran Chaos we had 2 new shrouds custom made in Auckland, New Zealand and delivered to us in person within 36 hours after we sailed into the Vaipae harbor of Aitutaki!!! In theory this should not be possible – but they made it happen!

Audun and Jon Petter replacing the broken shroud with a brand new and perfect one.

Audun & Jon Petter went right to work, and by Saturday Vilja was ready to sail again. But alas – the moon is a harsh mistress… and now we are our further sail is in her hands. We can not get out through the pass until full moon (and hopefully the also the weather and surge) “max’es up” the high tide.

But you know what? It turns out that Aitutaki is one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, with also the friendliest people possible. We have come to terms with our fate, and embraced the idea of being tourists and making the most out of our time here on Aitutaki.

Karen Marie is enrolled in pre-school at Araura Primary School, and is the proud owner of her life’s first and very own school note book and actual homework.  We’ve also been guests at the 90th birthday celebration of the Cook Island Girl Guides (girl scouts). We’ve toured the island with wonderful Maria at the Boat Shed. And every morning we walk the few steps over to Dive Aitutaki, where Brooke, Meegan and the entire staff make us feel that Aitutaki is the best place to be right now. (Not to mention, they make GREAT coffee that kick-starts our days.)

So now we DON’T WANT to go anywhere just yet.

We’ll put out more pictures if the internet connection allows it (which it may not… It’s reaaallly slow…).  But for now, you’ll just have to take our word for it: Aitutaki must be one of the best places in the World to be stuck!


FRIDAY OCTOBER 5th 2018: HIGHLIGHTS from our 5 WEEKS in FRENCH POLYNESIA (posted in Bora Bora before departure for the Cook Islands)

So we ended up staying 5 weeks in French Polynesia. 5 weeks here is like rushing through Heaven! We could’ve spent a lifetime here, and still had incomprehensably much to explore. 118 inhabited islands and many many more small, uninhabited or deserted ones. Some volcanic, some simply made up of corals and sand. Only 3.500 sq.km of solid ground sprinkled out as islands across the SW Pacific across an area of 2,5 million sq km.

To simplify it a bit, the islands can be grouped into the following: The Marquesas Islands (of which we visited two: Fatu Hiva and Nuku Hiva), the Tuamoto Atolls (of which we visited two: Tahanea and Fakarava), Tahiti and the Society Islands (of which we visited Tahiti, Mo’orea, Ra’iatea, Taha’a and Bora Bora), The Australs and the Gambier Archipelago (none of which we even came close to). We loved all the places we visited. We want more time here. But at the same time sense tells ut that we’ll never be «finished» here anyway. Instead we hope to return one day.

Some favorites from the last 5 weeks:

The Polynesian People. The hospitality and giving nature of the Polynesian people that surprised us, warmed our hearts and inspired us time and time again.

The sense of pride and the hospitality of the villagers in Hakatea Bay on Nuku Hiva (Marquesas) warmed us and was perhaps the first experience that opened up our hearts to French Polynesia. This picture shows a moment along our walk, when we happened to pass by a man picking fruit. As soon as he saw Karen Marie, he stopped what he was doing and went to fetch a horse that was grazing nearby. He then lifted her up on its bare back and let her have a ride. Totally unexpected, and all the more unforgettable and appreciated.
Another of the generous villagers in Hakatea Bay (Nuku Hiva) gave us bananas, mangos, avocados and coconuts to bring to the boat, and even made some coconut water refreshments right on the spot.

The beauty of the Polynesian islands. Exploring uninhabited atolls, coral beaches, picking coconuts right off the tree, snorkeling among corals full of countless colorful small and big fish and even some pretty big (though harmless) sharks, feeding large sting rays from our bare hands, swimming with dolphins, whales and turtles.

Bay of Virgins on Fatu Hiva. This is the first sight of land that met us after 3 weeks at sea. Needless to say it took our breath away.
Haitiheu Bay on Nuku Hiva (Marquesas).
Taking our dinghy out from the inner (nearly enclosed) bay and village of Hakatea Bay, Nuku Hiva (Marquesas).
Crystal clear water and an atoll all to ourselves – in the lagoon of the uninhabited Tahanea Atoll in the Tuamotos.
Vaitepiha waterfall at the outskirts of the village Tautira on Tahiti.
Audun and Jon Petter having a good walk and talk at sunset on Mo’orea.
Swimming with the rays of Mo’orea – an awesome experience.
The view from Taha’a towards Bora Bora in the distance.

The ancient culture, and the old and newer history of French Polynesia. Awe-inspiring, dramatic, proud (eg. The history of Polynesian voyaging at sea, parallell but still different from our own history of the Viking era in Norway), and unfortunately also at some points sad and repulsive (eg. France’s nuclear test bombing in the Tuamotos that went on in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s).

There are remnants of the past wherever you go on the Marquesian islands. Here: A glimpse of the archeological site in the forests of Hikokua on Nuku Hiva.
A tiki (sacred statue) from the past, placed in Taiohae Bay on Nuku Hiva. No need to wonder whether this one’s a male or female…

The art and culture of Polynesian tattoos. So different than the European style. And so dense in symbolism and meaning. This was a topic for many a talk both among Vilja’s crew and with Polynesian tattoo artists and locals we met who were «covered in art». The Slungaard Myklebust Family takes their personal piece of this art with them in their lives forever (just wait and see!).

Our encounter with the tattooist Teikivahiani Puhetini (alias Ludo) on Nuku Hiva (Marquesas) started a process, that led to this (see next picture…)
Icon among tattooists; Purotu from Mo’orea – was allowed to interpret and etch Ingrid’s life story and values into Ingrid’s skin forever. (Purotu to the left, skin stretcher and translator Dom to the right.)

Meeting the other long-distance sailors – both young and old – that tend to gather here at this time of year. Some will sail on like us to New Zealand or Australia for the tropical storm season, but most of those we met plan to spend the coming half year exploring the most northern or southern islands of this country, safely outside the tropical storm belt.

Rick, captain on the American sailboat Oceans, let Jon Petter blow his (conch shell) horn. He and his wife were a really nice couple we may meet again next year in Fiji. Time will tell.
The World is so small: Imagine meeting this family in three different countries totally by coincidence! We crossed the Panama Canal with the French catamaran Azyu. Then they came sailing into Shipwreck Harbour on San Cristôbal in Galapagos a couple of days after we arrived. An waddayouknow – now we met them in Nuku Hiva! Finally we had time to sit down and get to know big and small in this very nice family.
Thiago and Kristyna on Good Run – we love your energy & attitude. And thank you for being so good about letting us «steal» the wonderful Sophie from you. 😉
Meeting cruising families feels like a gift; and this awesome one in particular: Luc (French), Sarah (Irish), Kaï (4,5 yrs) and Liam (1,5 yrs).
Karen Marie & Kaï found eachother instantly. Good to have equal buddies to both play a lot and fight a little with.

Our visiting crew:

Brynhild – our friend from Trondheim who crossed the Pacific with us and whom we got to share the joy of accomplishment after three weeks of continuous sail across the Pacific and the first taste of (to us) «new land» during a week together in the Marquesas.

Ingrid & Brynhild share a friendship cheers & «ankerdram» (in English: anchor shot) in celebration of the safe sail.
Brynhild and Karen Marie – or big sister and little sister as we call them!
  • Audun – also our friend from Trondheim who arrived in Tahiti and is joining us all the way to New Zealand. Since he arrived the boat has been transformed into a mix of giggles, philosophy, play, live music and much more.
With Audun’s arrival we have three playful individuals on board; Karen Marie & Jon Petter being the two others.
Two cockadoos!

Sophie a very special young woman whom we briefly met in Galapagos and by the unexpected turn of events ended up sailing with us for 2,5 weeks from the Marquesas to Mo’orea. She made an imprint in our hearts – and on Ingrid’s skin(!) – forever.

Sophie became part of the family the minute she boarded Vilja.
Karen Marie and Sophie enjoying a time-out in the Tuamotos.

And last, but not least: the time and precious moments the three of us – the «core crew members» of Vilja – share on our voyage.

Ingrid, Jon Petter and Karen Marie enjoying the calm and beauty of the Tuamotos.
Ingrid & Karen Marie: We love sailing! Here on our way through the pass leaving the lagoon of the Tahanea Atoll in the Tuamotos.
Karen Marie is getting the hang of handling the dinghy. It’s good to have a proud and patient mentor in Pappa Jon Petter, and a Mommy Ingrid whose motto is «It’s the detours, delays and sidetracks that enrich life.» Karen Marie sees no reason to take the dinghy to shore following a straight line, to put it that way….
Taking in a moment to ourselves on Fakarava in the Tuamotos.
Roaming around on Tahiti.

And now what?!

We are currently 4 crew members on board: Jon Petter, Ingrid & Karen Marie (of course), and also Audun Sødal our friend from Trondheim. Audun arrived in Pape’ete on Tahiti on September 21st, and will sail with us all the way to New Zealand. Our boat is filled with lots of laughter, play, everyday philosophy, live music (piano and guitar) and mere curiosity and appreciation of both the little and big things in life.

So here we go! Next planned stops are two of the Cook Islands; first the island of Aitutaki (360 nm westwards) and then Palmerston Island (another 200 nm northwest). We’ve been granted special permission to stop at the latter, and we hope that weather allows us to drop our anchor there. Time will tell. Now we look forward to the sail that will take us there.

Bon voyage!


Tuesday September 11th, 2018. A quick update from the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

We’ve arrived in French Polynesia, after 22 days at sea and 3,043 nautical miles from Galapagos.

The sail was unforgettable – in a good way! And we’re Grateful.

We’ve now spent 11 days on the Marquesian Islands of Fatu Hiva and Nuku Hiva. Truth be told, we’ve fallen in love with the islands with their beautiful landscape and warm-hearted people. We’d love to stay longer, but must sail on in order to reach New Zealand before the tropical storm season sets in in November.

The Tuamoto Atolls are 5 days sail away, and we plan to stay a few days there before we head on to Tahiti.

See you!



Vilja and crew have gone sailing!

Departure from San Cristóbal, Galapagos on August 8th at 3 pm

Destination: The Marquesas Islands

Distance: 3000 nautical miles

Current position: Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean…

Team Pacific! From left to right: Ingrid Slungaard Myklebust, Brynhild Reitan, Karen Marie and Jon Petter Li S. Myklebust.

Our last swim around Vilja before departure from Galapagos gave us this:

Our stay here in Galapagos has been unforgettable, in so many ways. No doubt these last 6 and half weeks will be a highly valued chapter in our Sailingvilja voyage.

Thank you, Galapagos!


Key words: Final preparations before departure. Saying goodbye to friends.

We’re soon ready to sail, hopefully already tomorrow. We’re anxious to go, but – as strange as it may sound – we’re also feeling a bit sad to leave San Cristóbal. I guess it’s human nature; growing roots when you stay somewhere for a long time. We’ve been in Galapagos for 6 weeks now, and in San Cristobal for more than 4 of these. We’re starting to feel at home. We’ve gotten friends for life. We appreciate having sea lions for company when we swim by the boat. We’re gonna miss this place!

Our friend Don came over to say goodbye. He joined us for lunch. Good to see him again and hope to stay in touch!
Jon Petter uses all the chances he gets to do practical work now.
Nearly ready to sail. It’s time for shopping the fresh produce!
We’ve carried many loads of food down to the boat these last couple of weeks. Ingrid has a slight fobia againt running out of food in the middle of the sea. Brynhild’s a bit shocked, and claims we have enough food to last a full soccer team for a whole year… She’s probably right… 😉
We met up with Cecilia and Patricio for the last time during our stay – this time around. I feel certain we’ll see our friends again somewhere in the world, hopefully both during our circumnavigation and when we’re back home in Norway. And for the first time I’m starting to think; maybe we’ll come back to San Cristóbal one beautiful day in the future?




Key words: Manual furling system installed. New generator on board – where the h… do we put it?! But the genuine highlight of the day: Spending the day with the Savalla family at their farm “Finca Don Eudoro” in El Progreso.

The morning on board started with the technical stuff – two achievements & one new headache:

Achievement #1: The mechanical roller furling system is installed and (nearly) ready to use! We can hardly believe it, but the fact is that WE ARE NEARLY READY TO SAIL!!!

Our new mechanical roller furling system. Handcrafted on San Cristóbal.

Achievement #2: We’ve bought a new generator. It FINALLY arrived yesterday by ship from the mainland. Why a new one, you ask? Well, our Fischer Panda broke down at Isabela three weeks ago. No spare parts are to be found here. Without a generator we wouldn’t have enough electricity for the fridge, electric stove nor using the autopilot 24-7. Meaning; it would have a great impact on our 3 weeks and 3000 nm Pacific crossing. So: We have bought a 2,5 kW portable generator as a temporary solution until we get to New Zealand. To save some money we chose the “local brand” KISA. We hope it’ll be ticking for at least the remaining sail across the Pacific.

We have a new portable generator on board. But where the heck do we put it?!

New headache: BUT – where the heck do we stow this monster? It has to be outside, but can’t take salt water spray. And it’s heavy – 45 kg! Jon Petter faces a new phase of problem solving… ;-p

Now enough about that. Today was actually another wonderful day! Yes, we know wonderful is a big word, but it’s the right one. Wonderful and full of wonders!

We spent the day at the Zapalla family’s farm Finca Don Eudoro in El Progreso. Words can’t begin to describe the experience and atmosphere. We are aware every minute of the time we spend with this family that what we’re experiencing right now is unique.

Here are some of the many memorable moments from our day.

Thank you!




Key words: Friends & play! Because: It’s time to get ready to sail! All the more important to treasure the last moments building friendship and memories, to take with us into the future.

It’s Saturday. We’re hoping to sail on Tuesday at the latest. We probably OUGHT TO be doing the last practical preparations like tidying up the boat, stocking up the last goods, etc. But life on board Vilja right now is much more than that: We’ve been here so long we’re starting to “settle”. We’ve met friends. We enjoy San Cristóbal. We’re going to make sure we appreciate the last days we have here to build friendship and value the possibilities that we are lucky enough to get. Some preparations before departure are musts, but many “shoulds” and “coulds” can wait. Whatever isn’t ready by Tuesday can probably be done during the Pacific crossing or in the next port.

We started our Saturday morning with our friends and sleepover guests; Cecilia, Patricio and Alice. It was SO nice. You can’t NOT take this invaluable time. 🙂

Enjoying the perks of living at sea: Taking a morning dip! The very best and most effective way to wake up and clear your mind!
Karen Marie and Alice enjoyed each other’s Company.
Long and good breakfasttime with friends.
Patricio, Cecilia and Alica.

Who said boat maintenance is only work and no play?! Nonsense! This is just as omportant: Introducing the kids to “rig control” and using safety lines! 😉
We had a very nice surprise visit by Australian Jill and her friend Karla. Jill works as a missionary here. She came to Ecuador 11 (or more?) years ago, without knowing any Spanish. She’s worked in the rain forest, the mountains and the cities along the coast of Ecuador. Now she’s spent 1,5 years here in Galapagos. It was truly interesting to meet this woman who is following her heart and mission in life, which has many times taken her completely into the unknown.
Our American friend, Don, also came over for a surprise visit again. The talks we’ve had with him about all sorts of things, such as working in the school system in Ecuador and Galapagos, living here, and not to mention getting more insight and some laughs from hearing about Donald Trumps many unbelievable doings.
Finally we went on land to check off some of the practical preparations before departure. Such as finally taking the step from window shopping to making some actual important choices and Investments. 😉 Karen Marie is now ready to go!




Key words: Galapagos birds in our “home & garden”. The manual roller furling system is installed. The highlight of today; having sleepover guests!

First a short update on the technical side: The manual roller furling system is nearly finished installed, and looking good so far!

Then to everyday life in San Cristóbal, which is getting SO good these days:

We’re not allowed to use our own dinghy here on San Cristóbal. The local taxi boats take us to and from land. They start at 6 am in the morning, and stop at 7 pm. This system works fine, with a copule of exceptions: The first is that we can’t visit neighbor boats unless we swim over to them (which we do!). The second is that it limits the evening activities on land. The good thing about it though outweighs this, because: If we want to socialize with friends in the evening, either they or we have to sleep over! This has given us very special experiences; Our American friend Don slept over on July 25th. On July 31st we spent the night at the Zapalla’s home in El Progreso (see Everyday blog). Today Cecilia, Patricio and their granddaughter Alice came and spent the night at our home, on board Vilja.  We really appreciated their company.

To the left: A little, yellow Galapagos flycatcher often pays us a visit, and even has a look inside Vilja every so often. We choose to think it’s the same one every time, and think of him as our very own Galapagos pet. To the right: When we came to land today, we spotted this bluefotted booby on a rock by the docks. Have a look at those bright blue feet and beak. Neat!
A trip on land, to buy som groceries and of course ICE CREAM!
Cecilia & Patricia Zapalla and their granddaughter Alice stayed the night. Extra nice that their son Matteo and his friend David stopped by to see Vilja & meet us at home, too.

Ps. We had invited the Zapallas over for dinner at somewhere around 6 pm. Ingrid TOTALLY miscalculated dinner preparation time, and had the food ready at 9:30 pm…. And this miscalculation happened regardless of the fact that she’d prepared the very same meal before! The last time was during the 10 day sail over from Panama. She hadn’t thought at all of the food preparation being time consuming then. Which gave us a good reminder of how time has no significance when you long distance sail. 😉 (Thank God we have patient friends…)




Ingrid spent the whole day (9 am to 7 pm!) on land at cafés, drinking coffee… Her mission: To edit and finish an article that will be published in the magazine “RS Magasinet” in September. RS Magasinet is the member magazine of the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (Redningselskapet).  Mission completed: The article was finished and sent by midnight. In good time before the deadline of August 20th, by which time we’re hopefully sailing across the Pacific. Time for more piña colada?! 😉

Meanwhile Brynhild, Karen Marie and Jon Petter stayed on board for most of the day. Jon Petter was busy adjusting the locally made mechanical roller furling system. It needs further adjustment and paint. We expect it will be installed on Friday. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Brynhild and Karen Marie were “the kid sisters» on board today, keeping themselves entertained. Brynhild did some “boatwork” (meaning: “housework” on board) in between.

Finally, we all met in town and had a cup of coffee (cup #7 or 8 in Ingrid’s case…) & ice cream.

A good everyday in Galapagos.




Key words: A day with the Zapalla family at their home and farm at El Progreso. A chicken hunt. A ride home. And people, talks, stories and an atmosphere that we’ll take with us in our minds and hearts for a long time.

We met a man 2 days ago. His name is Julio Patricio Zapalla. Not only did he help us repair the boat so we can continue our sail across the Pacific. He and his wife opened up their home to us and made us feel at home. We’ve shared stories of our life experiences, we’ve lived the present, found interest in sharing stories from the past and thoughts about the future.

Patricio and Cecilia have shared with us their story of…

…life change

…family history

…warmth and hospitality


…love and respect – for your partner, your children, family, people, your surroundings

…appreciating NOW, and valuing what WAS to take you better equipped into what WILL BE

…life wisdom, and (still) learning…

We are forever grateful! These last 24 hours have been one of the most unforgettable days of our journey. We came back home to the boat and all 4 of us were simply a bit mind blown. Maybe we’ll share some of the stories and experiences from today in a “Message in a bottle” in the future. But for now we simply share some pictures, knowing that there isn’t any way we could fully describe the experience we’ve had anyway. You’d have to be there in person!

The Zapalla familiy’s home is enclosed by a big garden. Cecilia and Patricio themselves have their bedroom in a little house in the backyard. An excellent idea, when you have grown-up kids (19 and 21) in the house.
A morning walk in the garden, where Cecilia grows some fruits and vegetables for their own use. The guavas tasted delicious. We’ve “earmarked” one of the big bunches of bananas hanging from a tree that we’ll be bringing along on the voyage across the Pacific.
Patricio and Jon Petter came home pleased with the morning’s catch. On command the dog had caught one of the neighbor’s chickens. No reason to wonder what’s for lunch then!?
Plucking, cooking and eating the chicken. It sure was a short way from wandering in the neighbor’s garden in the morning to being the base for a delicious chicken soup for lunch!
A walk to the Zapalla family’s farm; Finca don Eudovo. Below right: Enjoying an ice cold bear and oranges picked from the tree right outside.

The peaceful walk back home. By the way, the animals are fascinatingly well trained. The horse doesn’t even give a wink of an eye at passing vans or barking dogs. The cat obeys the dog(!), and ended its wandering with us to sit down obediently outside the farm gate – and stayed there! – as soon as the dog gave it a firm nudge. The dog itself wanders freely about, and apparently couldn’t care less about other barking dogs or wandering chickens on the road. Still we bear in mind the immediate response and pursuant hunt and kill this morning, when the owner told him to catch a chicken…
Granddaughter Alice was home from school when we came back to the house. Karen Marie is so completely relaxed here, showing no shyness at all, neither for the grown-ups nor the children. Maybe no wonder; kids pick up the same vibes as grown-ups. We all felt at home while we were here.
“Chocolate and Milk” – Grandpa Patricio’s immediate response when he saw this picture of Alice and Karen Marie. 😉


Key words: Breakthrough on the electric motor: Ditch it! We’re going for Plan D: Mechanical furling. Stocking up food for the long sail. We experience the incredible hospitality of a Galapagos family: We left Vilja for the night and spent it in El Progreso at our new friends’ home!

We’ve spent the last 3 weeks waiting, thinking, guessing, hoping and turning our minds inside out to find a solution that will take us further on our journey across the Pacific. Up until yesterday we walked up one dead-end after the other, banging our heads into the wall over and over again. But that was until yesterday…

Yesterday we met Julio Patricio Zapalla. In the last 24 hours things have turned from questioning whether “this is it?” for our crossing the Pacific this year, to suddenly being in a rush to actually get ready to go! ‘Cos Jon Petter and Patricio say that the mechanical furling system for the genoa will be ready on Wednesday!!!

We’ve been stocking up on food for the Pacific crossing this last week. From the smile on the local grocer’s face when we come to his shop, we are VIP customers. They’ve actually run out of granola, wholemeal flour and some other goods after our raids! 😉
The guys were busy and enthusiastic on the boat when we returned from town. The forestay is re-attached and new parts for the furling system are being fitted.

We can hardly believe the sudden «ketchup effect» in our progress. And not only that; It turns out that Patricio is an extraordinary person, and so is his whole family. Right now we are in El Progreso, and are staying in Patricio’s and his wife Cecilia’s home. We had a wonderful dinner and evening here this evening, and tomorrow (Tuesday) they have invited us to stay and get to know El Progreso better. What an incredible hospitality, not to mention what a wonderfully nice and interesting family. Again we realize we’re incredibly Lucky!

A very special couple we are lucky to get to know; Staying the night at Patricio and Cecilia Zapalla’s home in El Progreso
Spending the evening and enjoying tasty tuna at the Zapalla’s family home in El Progreso. From left: Brynhild, Jon Petter, Karen Marie, Nieta, Cecilia and Patricio.
Our charming friend and excellent cook, Patricio…
…and his warm and welcoming wife Cecilia and grandchild Alice (6).
We feel at home.


Key Words (and questions): Plan A, B and C are discarded. Still no solution to our broken motor. Now what?! Can this be the end to our sail westwards?! We invent a new Plan D. And hey, it may work out!?!

Remember our Plan A, Plan B and Plan C? (See Everyday blog from July 27th).

Brynhild and JP had another go at Plan A and visited LATAM Airline’s helpdesk at the airport in search of the lost luggage (containing the new motor). Still no luck…

Plan A was trashed many days ago. On Sunday we gave up on Plan B. Today Plan C also went down the drain when we were told that even express packages from the States (with new spare parts) will take 3 weeks to get here…

The situation is: We have to be in New Zealand in 3,5 months before the tropical storm season sets in. We have at least 7000 nautical miles left to sail to get there. Brynhild has her work back home to consider and can’t stay on board forever. We’re REALLY set on her being part of the team that sails the 3000 nm long stretch over to the Marquesas islands.


So we have made up a plan D: Jon Petter will make parts himself and here on San Cristóbal for rebuilding to a mechanical furling system for the genoa sail.

Yesterday afternoon Jon Petter spotted a guy working on a car engine outside a “workshop” and went to talk with him. An hour later he came back, all enthusiastic. It turns out that the guy he met is a self-taught mechanic. Jon Petter trusts him. They’ve agreed to team up and work on this project together. Tuesday will be THE day.

The guy to the left is our new partner in crisis. JP and he went around asking other local workshops if they have any material we can use?
The “workshop” where Jon Petter will be working together with his new partner to make a mechanical furling system for the genoa.
They found what they were looking for. (Really?!) Maybe this is the part that’s gonna save us? Hey, we’re not kidding!


We’re not drinking away our sorrows. We have something to celebrate: Ingrid’s article about sailing across the Atlantic with a 3-year-old is published in Våganavisa (www.vaganavisa.no) this week. Cheers!





Key Words: Opening up the defect electric motor, to see what’s wrong. Maintenance day. Snorkeling with dolls & seals. Don, our American friend stops by for a visit. A volcano eruption on board S/Y Vilja!

Jon Petter has dislocated the defect furling motor from the forestay. Hopes were up for a while that the fault would be an easy fix.
Unfortunately NO easy fix… One of the cogwheel teeth seems to be broken. We don’t have the tools to fix this here. We’ll have to move to Plan C: Getting hold of parts from Seldén in USA in order to rebuild the furling system from electric to manual. It’s a temporary but functional solution. And sufficient for us to sail across the Pacific.

Brynhild made a short trip on land to get some exercise and a well deserved time-out after having patched up wear and tear on the steering wheel’s suede cover. She took a walk along the path to the nature reserve Cerro de las Tijeretas and back again along Love Beach + read a book at a café.

Meanwhile, the rest of us stayed on the boat. JP & Ingrid had a dip in the ocean to scrub algae off the boat. (It’s amazing how fast it grows in these waters!) Then we took the rest of the day off.

Karen Marie, her doll Bella Castle and Ingrid did some snorkeling. A couple of curious sea lions swam by to have a look at us.
Don, our American friend and English teacher at the San Cristobal University, stopped by with cold beers. How can you say no to such an offer?! Or why should you, for that matter?! 😉 Don stayed for a cup of coffee and Norwegian waffles. Good to see him again, and look forward to (and hope for) more spontaneous visits from him and other “locals” while we’re here.
Volcano handcraft project – step 1.
Result: Vilja’s very own Volcano!




Key Words: The motor is STILL lost in transit. We must move on to Plan B or C. An unexpected and nice visit by a local family on kayak. Breaking news: We have a TV on Board Vilja! And finally: the genoa was taken down at midnight.  

Ok, let’s face it: The electric motor for furling/unfurling the genoa (headsail) is lost!

It’s been 16 days since Brynhild arrived in Galapagos, whilst one of her checked-in luggages didn’t… Inside the missing box is a new electric motor for furling and unfurling the genoa. We’ve spent the last couple of weeks clinging on to plan A (see below). Daily we’ve spent hours at our agents’ offices – first James Hinkle on Isla Isabela and now Bolivar Pesantes in San Cristobal – doing our best to keep the pressure up on trying all channels there are at finding the lost luggage. Our superb agents have put in a lot of effort to help us, but they can’t work wonders. LATAM Airlines has no clue as to where they’ve put our box! After 16 days we realize it’s time to give up plan A, and move on to Plan B or C.

  • Plan A: Waiting for the lost luggage with the motor to turn up.
  • Plan B: Fixing the old, broken one. Seldén Mast in Sweden do not advise us to do so (which is why we initially bought a new one). We have practically no access to customized tools or spare parts here on the island.
  • Plan C: Rebuilding the system to a manual system for furling and unfurling the genoa. Probably our best bet.

We’re in dialogue with Seldén Mast in Sweden and USA to order the necessary parts for rebuilding the system and have them shipped here. In the meantime we’ll be exploring Plan B.

I guess one could say that the main achievement these past weeks has been to keep our spirits up in Team Vilja. We’ve had to reset our minds from focusing on the Pacific crossing, to seeing the value in spending everyday life in Galapagos. We’ve actually managed to have a lot of fun, too!

(And yeah yeah, we know: There could’ve been a lot of worse places to be stranded than on the Galapagos islands! No complaining from our end.)

Here are some glimpses from our everyday life today:

A family was paddling by in their kayak, and we invited them to come on board for a cup of coffee. So then we met Carlos, Vicky and Misha (3). They stayed for snacks while we had late (as always) breakfast. Vicky is from Santa Cruz and Carlos from the mainland of Ecuador. The family lives here on San Cristobal. Really nice to get to know this very nice family. The fact that they’re locals is extra nice for us, as it gives us the chance to get to learn more than just the touristy stuff about Glapagos. Maybe they’ll come back to visit again before we leave? We hope so.

Unexpected & very welcome guests for breakfast: Carlos, Vicky and Misha.
Even sending mail can be an interesting happening in the everyday life of a sailor. Visiting the post office here in San Cristobal is like going back in time: Ok, they DO have a computer. But other than that everything seems to be manual. The guys that work there are helpful and put the few English words they know into use. Our letters are now on their way to Norway. Excellent!
Lazy Cook Day today. We ended up going out for dinner at Rustica Restaurant in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The Lazy Cook herself feels inspired to keep up her laziness!
We’ve lived 3 years on board Vilja without a TV. But now we’ve «given in”: We’ve bought a TV, and it’s mounted in the forepeak The grand premiere was held today, showing the documentary “The Galapagos Affair – Satan came to Eden” . Accompanied by the compulsory popcorn, chocolate and drinks of course. 😉
Nearly wind still at midnight. Finally we dared take down and dismantle the genoa. We’ve been waiting for this possibility for weeks, as it’s simply been too windy to have the big sail out and «hanging loose». It’s a relief to have the job done.

So now it’s time to start Plan B and/or C. Wish us luck!




Key words: Good news on the genoa motor, cleaning up after nightly visit by our flippered friends, bon voyage to the Red Pearl crossing the Pacific, enjoying a good visit and Norwegian waffles with newfound Isabela friends, an unexpected visit from Norway.

Good morning! Hope’s up on board Vilja. Supposedly the motor for the genoa is stuck in customs, and they have requested for an address here on Galapagos. This means the motor isn’t completely lost! Now we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we won’t have to pay import taxes here. We’ve already paid €1000 in VAT in Norway…

Other than that, here’s what’s happening in our everyday life on Isla Isabela:

Ingrid’s knee is still swollen and not good after yesterday’s crash. She spent the day on board, while Jon Petter and Karen Marie went on land to explore & run some errands.

Everyday morning chores in Galapagos: Scooping sea lion shit out of the dinghy…

You know you’re in Galapagos when you wake up in the morning and discover that you’ve had overnight visitors in your dinghy – leaving it full of sea lion shit…

Waving goodbye to the Red Pearl (the second-last boat crossing the Pacific?)

Waving the Red Pearl goodbye, wishing them the very best of sails! This may be the second-last boat to cross the Pacific this year. Guess who’ll be the last…

Even though a part of us wishes it was us who were setting sail, we’re really happy for these guys that they’re finally on their way now. God knows they really deserve it! You see, this is their second time around; More than a month ago they were on their way to Marquesas and had sailed nearly 200 nm from the coast of Galapagos when suddenly they LOST their rudder! With no pre-warning, it all of a sudden simply detached and disappeared into the deep blue… Without a rudder, you’re like a message in a bottle, not knowing where or even IF you’ll ever reach a shore. They sent out emergency signals, and were out there bobbing in the vast Pacific Ocean for nearly a day. Finally they were rescued, and their sailboat tugged back to Isabela. The tug back took them 4 days. And since then they’ve been stuck in Isabela, waiting for a new rudder to be made and shipped. It finally arrived this week, and now they’re on their way. We admire their ability to stay motivated and not give up.

The crew on board the Red Pearl stopped by for a cup of coffee and a last chat before they sailed off to the Marquesas. From left: Susi, Felix (1,5yrs old), Thomas and Sophie.

So now we’re the last boat in the harbor of Isla Isabela… Looks like we’re going to be the last boat crossing the Pacific this year?! I wonder when we’ll actually sail?

A lovely and fun visit

We had our favorite Galapagos couple over for a visit: Our agent James Hinkle and his wife Marlene. The couple runs the Booby Trap Bar, which we’ve visited frequently during our stay here on Isla Isabela. Not only has James given us priceless help in our struggle to get spare parts for the boat; it just so happens that the Booby Trap serves great food and the best mojitos and piña coladas we’ve tasted in a looong time!

A good visit, sharing stories and some real good laughs with our newfound friends from Isabela; James and Marlene Hinkle.

Well anyway – today Marlene and James came on board for Norwegian waffles, and we ended up having a really interesting and fun conversation. I’m telling you: These are extraordinarily nice people!

Unexpected visit from Norway

Towards the end of the day we had unexpected visitors from Norway!

Kim and Dag from Bergen had spotted the Norwegian flag, and stopped by to say hello. Nice! 




Key words: Motor “lost in transit”. Stuck in Galapagos. TheSailingvilja- team is functioning. Meeting a good helper and new friend; agent James Hinkle. Crashing on the scooter, and battering up my knee. All-in-all: A day of ups and downs…

The box at the bottom of the stack is missing. WE NEED IT – NOW!!!

We started rough; Today’s first DOWN: Message from Brynhild, our new crew mumber who arrived on Santa Cruz (the neighbor island) 3 days ago: Her luggage is still lost. And hey, we’re not talking about some lost t-shirts and a toothbrush here. No, the box holding the electric motor for hauling the genoa (front sail) in and out is lost. Without it, we can sail nowhere. Not to mention the monetary value of this “precious metallic gem”… The old motor broke down as we sailed into the harbor of Galapagos. We HAVE TO have a new one in order to be able to sail on.

Obviously, both Jon Petter and I are stressed about the whole thing. The thought struck me: “Oh my God, maybe we’re not going to be able to sail on from here?! We have 8000 nautical miles to New Zealand and 4 months to sail them. WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!!!”

Today’s first UP: Being able to talk about it! The dark clouds from fear of the situation with technical problems and uncertainty were filling up my mind. Instead of keeping it to myself, I sat down opposite Jon Petter in the cockpit and said: “I’m worried. And afraid that “this is it” for our circumnavigation.”. That gave a kick start to a good talk between us, and a sharing of the situation. Being a team means everything. We’re in the same boat on this one, literally spoken.

Then another UP: We went over to the Booby Trap Bar to meet the owner and our agent James Hinkle and discuss the missing motor and all the other technical issues on the boat that we’re struggling with. This guy is the best! He contacts people, makes things happen, translates all our messages and is our “right hand” and life saver. It means SO much when we’re in a Spanish speaking country where our English is worth virtually nothing.

Jon Petter and our very good agent and helper in Isla Isabela: James Hinkle

After the technical talk, he took us for a walk in his kitchen garden, showing us how he’s nursed all kinds of fruits and vegetables to grow in this volcanic sand. Ha picked a bunch of tomatoes, chilis (HOT HOT!) and lemon grass for us to take home.

After the garden tour we enjoyed a drink in the bar; mojito for the guys and a piña colada/ virgin colada for the girls over a good talk.

Karen Marie – 3,5 years old and already lovin’ virgin coladas.

James shared some fascinating stories from his years as an American gringo on Galapagos. Meeting people like this makes all the difference for our trip. We feel truly grateful.

And then another DOWN, literally: Ingrid crashed with her scooter on the way home! We were racing our scooters towards the harbor in the dark. I completely forgot to pay attention to the fact that we were racing on a dirt road. Suddenly the front wheel got caught in the dirt, and off I went in a half summersault, completely ungracious. I must have been clutching on to the handlebars, because the only limbs I landed on were my left knee and my forehead! OUCH! (Note to myself: I’ve been so careful and cautious all my life not to put myself in situations where I get hurt, that I completely missed out on the useful lesson that experience gives you in how to fall without killing yourself!) My head is ok, just a bump and a scratch. But my knee is battered and hurts like hell! We took a taxi to the harbor and the dinghy back home to Vilja. There Dr. Karen Marie and Nurse Jon Petter cleansed my boo-boos and gave me lots of care. So after all – I realize I’m lucky in the middle of my transient state of misery. 😉