Two intrepid later day Vikings stole across the North Sea into Lerwick harbour in the early hours of yesterday on a mission to experience Up Helly A’ for themselves.
Erik Martin Aanderaa and his friend and workmate Sigurd Utbjoe endured a tough solo crossing from Norway in gale force conditions in their yachts Tessie and Amelie.
Erik, an offshore rescue safety training specialist said that his vessel made the crossing from Haugesund in 32 hours in “perfect conditions” – if you call sailing in a teeth of a gale with 4 to 6m waves constantly breaking over the cockpit perfect. Sigurd’s slightly larger yacht Amelie made it into Lerwick a few hours earlier.
Unfortunately a third vessel skippered by Raymond Myhre and a crewman that sailed from Lindesnes in southern Norway had to turn back after the autopilot broke 50 miles from land. She went to port in Tananger in Rogoland.
Although the prospect of sailing the North Sea single-handed, especially in winter, would be a daunting prospect for most, Erik said he preferred going solo as he did not have the responsibility of looking after any crew.
He enjoyed his trip but said that they were delighted to have made landfall in Lerwick, especially when they were greeted with some beer and whisky.
They were now very much looking forward to the fire festival itself as it was the first time they had been to Up Helly A’, although not Erik’s first yacht trip to Shetland.
The pair have to be back in Norway a week on Monday for work, so hope to sail back, but have the option of leaving their yachts in Lerwick if they have to catch a flight instead.