Vardø – frontier town

A languid 18 hour motor sail in bright midnight sunshine and here we are.

DSC_3980In Vardo harbour Tainui has the only tall mast in a veritable forest of workmanlike varnished fishing boats. Cod, king crab and halibut seem plentiful and this is a busy port. But certainly not for cruising yachts. Russia is right next door and there is new, incomprehensible Russian VHF traffic on the radio. It is a short day sail to Murmansk and 500 miles along the Kola Peninsula coast to Archangel’sk.

We have 2 problems – first, customs and immigration here are closed for the weekend. Second, and vastly more worrying, is that our coolant loss persists despite everything. I am at a complete loss. Re customs formalities, we are going to take the Hurtigruten ferry to Kirkenes at 4 am to do the Norwegian exit paperwork there.

As for the coolant loss I can only say to hell with it – we press on and feed the system with water every 4 hours for the next 3,000 miles of motoring. I just wish that one of the many engineers who have looked at the old Ford engine could have solved the problem for us. We’ve pressure tested the header tank hot and cold 3 times, pressure tested the exhaust maninfold coolant jacket similarly, taken the cylinder head off for pressure testing and resurfacing and installed a new head gasket. To the satisfaction of all the engineers, the cylinder head itself is fine, as are all those other components. Heavens, we’ve spent enough time and money on it.

Chris says just stop buggering around and get a new engine. But that’s a month’s work, involving cutting out the cockpit sole, importing a new donk, fabricating bearers and brackets, finding an adapter for the Borg Warner gearbox and putting it all back together. The Vikings didn’t have to do that!

DSC_4002Maxine is comatose on a settee in this luxurious Hurtigruten ferry as I write. Dirk, discretion prevents me revealing that she has a mammoth hangover, after a very cheerful night at the local hotel with a delightful American electronics expert working on the radar station.


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