An Almost Disastrous Ferrytale

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of Denmark  , North Jutland,
Saturday, June 19, 2010

We have made it onto the Ferry Stena Saga, bound for Oslo, Norway, but it was a very close call, we could just as likely have not made it. In the last few hours I have felt more tired then ever before in my life, Felix and I have both been to our lowest point so far in the trip, we have travelled more distance in the time we did than we thought was possible, I’ve done a lot of crying, Felix has been very close to crying too, we have been almost ready to set Nina on fire and once again we have been the recipients of amazing kindness.

After our few hours of sleep next to the road in Germany, we finally got back on the bike after hitting snooze quite a few times. I think it must have been between four or five in the morning, travelling north where the days are getting considerably longer and longer has completely set our body clocks out of whack. Travelling at dawn was amazing. It made me realise how long it had been since I have been up at dawn and how much I miss it from back in the days of heading off to the pool in the wee hours. The sky was clear and a light mist was hanging over all the fields and trees. Looking over the rolling hills, in the pink misty light, so many different colours and textures, it was absolutely stunning. 

The rest of the long day’s ride was quite a mixture. After a beautiful dawn, we had an hour or so of a perfect sunny clear morning, the kind of morning when you wake up and look out the window and you exclaim “What a beautiful day!” but like the people exclaiming praise to the day and heading out in a summer dress, we too were very disappointed when the lovely sunny day became a cold and drizzly day.

We had a break on the edge of a forest and finished the last of the yummy sandwiches Ute had packed us. I tried placing a sandwich wrapped in foil on the hot engine to melt the cheese for a tasty warm, melted sandwich - I think it would have worked if I’d had the patience to leave it there long enough, however I didn’t so I didn’t even get slightly warmed bread. 

Not long after our break, ‘navi’ directed us onto an unexpected ferry. As we were waiting in line to board, behind us we heard a low rumbling and pulling up behind us was a Harley Davidson with a sidecar. Amazing, fancy that, another sidecar. It was a lovely looking bike and when Felix talked to him he said he had built it himself. Felix and the man who’s name we never asked, (but did get a picture of) talked for a while and then he took us to the front of the ferry line and explained to us how it all worked. It was a friendly encounter, five minutes earlier or later and we wouldn’t have seen him, it was really cool to see another sidecar. 

We stopped at Burger King to take advantage of the free internet, a warm place to have a rest, a little flannel wash in the bathrooms (well we couldn’t be bothered unpacking our flannel so it we made do with the paper towels for hand drying) and serve of sugar with fat and yummy flavouring and preservatives disguised as something you might consider eating if you were really, really hungry, wind-burnt, tired and cold - which we were. With the internet we booked a place on the ferry and I said “ I don’t think we should book the ferry because if we do, something will probably break and we will miss it, you know toast always lands butter side down.” Felix got a little angry and snapped back “Well thanks for the optimism Floss, thats just what we need.”

It was barely an hour later, just across the border into Denmark, I noticed the custom C clip  Felix had made was clearly not large enough, again and the flexible joint was separating from the gears again. We filled up on fuel and asked a mechanic at the petrol station who was just closing up if he had a small piece of wire he could sell us. He would hear nothing of us giving him money for a small piece of wire and went to find us some. He stayed around a while helping and lending us a file but wisely realised this was not going to be a quick fix and went home, leaving Felix with a tool and saying “Just stick it under the door.”

The next six and a half hours were the worst of the trip so far. We were more then four hundred kilometres from the ferry we were booked to be checked into at nine AM, the new ring Felix made just WOULD NOT go into place, then it started raining and Nina was in pieces getting wet in all the places she shouldn’t like inside the break shoes, it was dark and the only light was a headlight with dying batteries, I was falling asleep sitting up. We were filthy, tired, and extremely frustrated. I cried and cried, Felix yelled fuck so many times, so loudly we think someone called the police because they came past and had a chat with us. It looked like we were going to miss our ferry. Nothing was working, everything was going wrong. I didn’t want to to pack up and go home but I wanted out so badly. 

Finally we decided there was nothing left to do other then put the old ring back on and ride until it came apart, put it back together, and keep doing this until we made it to the ferry. It was one thirty in the morning and the sky was still faintly light. Twenty minutes down the road we stopped to check the brakes because they too gave us massive grief going back together. A young man on a dirt bike riding off to some midsummer festival saw us stopped on the side of the road and crossed the road to come and check we were ok. The brakes thankfully were all going well so we were soon back on our way again. 

‘Navi’ estimated riding at the speed limit of eighty for most of the way, with a few small fifty zones in between, we would arrive at the ferry dock in Fredrikshavn a little after seven. Last check in was nine and usually we always take two or more hours more then ‘navi’ predicts. All seemed lost, it was not the time to say to Felix “I told you so” though. If it wasn’t for the breakdown, we would have gotten to Fredrikshavn late in the evening, found a nice place to sleep and woken up around eight to go to the ferry. Despite the task seeming impossible we decided to give it a crack, maybe Nina couldn’t go that fast for  that long, maybe we would become to fatigued and need to sleep so we didn’t crash but it was better to try and fail rather then not give it a go at all.

At around two AM the sky was getting lighter again, Felix was finding that stage of light really difficult on his eyes so we stopped and set an alarm for a fifteen minutes power nap. Exactly fifteen minutes later we were speeding down the road again. I was on constant chatter patrol to help Felix stay awake. It was so hard my mind was completely blank, I was falling into dreams without noticing until my head was whipped around on a corner waking me from the pain of whiplash. 

Almost one hundred kilometres later Felix needed to stop for another power nap. ‘Navi’ keeps an ETA clock which was showing us arriving later and later with every break. But we needed them. At around three AM it was pretty dark and the roads were totally empty. Nina was going fantastically and the ring was holding everything in place. We were eating up the kilometres despite the struggle it was to do so. 

Just over a hundred kilometres away from our destination we found a petrol station with quite a large shop in it. So  we loaded up on coffee, chocolate, and water and set off feeling much better for the last leg of the trip. We pulled into check-in at eight thirty, half and hour before it closed - perfect timing. We had made it, we were going to make our booked ferry. Now Felix could say “I told you so” and I didn’t mind hearing it one bit. We had made it past the hardest part, riding through the night that seemed like day, it was now well into the morning and our bodies knew it and were not resisting being awake so strongly anymore

We boarded the Stena Saga and could finally relax. It was so confusing. We had completely missed a night. It was the next day yet we hadn’t really had the darkness of night signal the turn of date or sleep. It was so confusing.  Inside the ship I was so excited to explore, it had a spa and luxury area, but you had to pay more to go in there, a supermarket (basically only selling sweets and alcohol), a fashion and perfume shop, a casino, many lounges, restaurants and bars and heaps and heaps of outdoor deck space. It was pretty cold though so we found a semi-nice place in a lounge and have been sleeping here, hoping the staff won’t come and say we can’t sleep here, that if we wanted to sleep we should have booked one of the many, many cabins available. So next time, it will be from Norway...
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Michael and Lyned on

Wow! Great travel story. great photos, amazing adventure.

Julie on

This is getting soooo exciting!!! You are keeping me glued to the screen with such writing ;o)

I must admit I had to laugh a bit while reading about all the was just so comical hopeless. But I glad that leg of the journey is over for you. I must get to the Norway part before Lilja wakes up...(Virgil is at our new house painting and I should go to bed very soon....just a bit more of your lovely travel stories :o))

Matthew on

Epic. Sad to hear that your bike has given you so much grief. Will she survive another leg of the journey?

Miwa, Michi & Eddie on

Guys. WHAT an adventure. This story really takes the cake. Golly!! Like Julie said, we were laughing at so many of the tragicomic events, like the thought that someone had called the police on hearing Felix's swearing!! And incredible that you didn't crash, pushing yourselves like that to meet the crazy deadline. Well, all's well that ends well, huh? Wonderful photos, and a pleasure to read every word. It was comforting to read at the introduction that you'd managed to get on the ferry, so I wasn't fretting about what would happen while reading the detail of the adventure.

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