Thursday, 28 October 2010

Along the Breakwater

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-HansenI rowed our little inflatable dinghy along the breakwater. A huge sea lion got interested, and followed suit. I felt a bit uneasy by the thought of an attack. I had no idea what these kinds of animals were up to.

I started to think about Jean Baudrillard, the French philosopher. Watching tourists in Monterey had somewhat made me understand what Jean Baudrillard meant by 'hyperreality'. The fishing industry was replaced by the tourist industry, which simulated the fishing industry through toys and replicas; people took images that had already been taken from the past.

I scanned the concrete wall for a ladder but there were none. I kept rowing, thinking about Jean Baudrillard.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The fear of enthusiasm

I silently dislike Nina's enthusiasm when sailing offshore. Sure, I love dolphins or a good breeze, but I would never dare to say so.

It's my belief that enthusiasm brings bad luck. Forget about umbrellas, whistling or leaving on a Friday; outspoken enthusiasm could really sink a boat.

I never had this superstition while we stayed the winter at Tapawingo. We saw a black bear not more than ten meters from our cabin door, and my enthusiasm had no limits.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
But the fear of enthusiasm runs deep in the Canadian wild. Our story about the bear got played down, like "so you got to see the forest pig, aye?"

This was typical among the trappers and fishermen at Bistcho Lake; they loved wild animals, but would never dare to say so. Black bears were often called 'forest pigs', squirrels 'tree rats', and once we heard a trapper call a flock of snowy-white ptarmigans for a 'bunch of ducks'. But the lack of enthusiasm didn't seem to be for superstitious reasons.

In the wilderness you'll gain your respect through nonchalance and coolness. You have seen it all before.

Monday, 18 October 2010


I'm rowing in the fog. I have my camera in a watertight bag. I'm empty and ready and I'm turning around to find a landing on the beach. The swell breaks slow and heavy.

I'm carrying my shoes while walking barefooted towards the pier. The sand is cold and moist. The overhanging trees are dark and inflamed.

I'm thinking about the Norwegian photographer Kåre Kivijärvi. I'm thinking about his pictures, and nothing about his alcoholism, his troubled life.

The pier is almost empty.
Whatever goes on here has almost come to a stand still. I can see a few dark shapes of fishing boats. Single cars and men are creeping around in the gray light.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen

Friday, 15 October 2010


It's semi dark in the two rooms with jellyfish. The glassy creatures are dancing in slow motion. It's meditation just to watch.

There's grace in the aquariums, something strangely serene that make most people silent.
It's a miniature drama that unfolds slowly in front of us. Poisonous tentacles are arching like long distant missiles, and there's a texture to some of them, like thick orange smoke.

Then I'm watching silhouettes of people watching jellyfish. They're standing still in front of the illusion of a deep blue ocean.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
I suddenly recognize the silhouette of Thomas Quick, the famous Swedish serial killer. But then again; it can't be. He's in psychiatric confinement, convicted for 7 murders (although he confessed more than 30).

I watch him from behind. I can see the jellyfish angled through his glasses, the baseball cap as he slowly pans the aquarium. It's a silhouette look-alike; the tall figure, the way he straighten himself but still hunch forward.

He leaves the room and walks slowly towards the balcony. He opens the door and heads for the railing.

But when the weird excitment is gone, I don't know, it's like I feel sorry for us all. Especially the lone man at the balcony.

photo Henrik Nor-Hansen

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Moss in the morning

I'm reading about Moss Landing in the Wikipedia: "Prior to 1981, the community suffered from grave water contamination, severe septic tank failures, and public health problems."

I'm troubled by this as we leave in the morning. I'm also troubled by the fact that Moss Landing is one of those places without a face; one of those places that 'failed to make an impression'. This is, of course, not true.

Truth is; sailing around the world means a lot of skipping and cutting short. We can't see it all. And some places are left behind: without impressions, without stories, without friends.

But I tried to compensate in the blue morning light. Patches of fog were lingering around houses and structures. Moss Landing has its own beauty. Not to behold.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Moss in the evening

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
The only thing we'd heard about Moss Landing was that "there's really nothing there." It sounded appealing to me. It sounded exotic, even.

Maybe the incitement for stopping at Moss Landing was the possibility to experience something authentic: the only thing that the tourist industry can't sell on a big scale.

'Come to Moss Landing - we have absolutely nothing for you to see or do.'

photo Henrik Nor-Hansen
We landed at the guest dock and had a look at the abundance of harbor seals and sea otters. An elderly man seemed slightly provoked by our enthusiasm. "It's like an infestation," he stated. "They stink."

We went for a walk. The main road was right there. I could see cars, the power plant.

Nina came back to where I was standing next to the road. I was thinking about the way certain memories get stuck while traveling; it's never really the big things, like mausoleums or grand waterfalls. She shouted something through the deafening traffic. It was dark by then. Her face lit up by passing cars. Her face lit up in intervals, all white and twisted in dust and light.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen

Friday, 1 October 2010


We never did take a tour to Alcatraz. I guess we've sort of been there already. Through fiction, that is.

We sailed past the prison Sing Sing three years ago, in a nice breeze. And this summer we've passed San Quentin several times. I don't know the full meaning of this, but it somehow feels significant.

Is it fair to say that sailing around the world is a direct opposite to spending years in jail? Maybe, but there's also something in common; in our kind of pocket-cruising we're living most of our time with less space than in a cell.

But the argument is halting. We're moving. We're moving in the extreme. And the whole point of doing time is to stay put; the inmates are only moving through time.

I read Edward Bunkers 'Education of a Felon' some years ago. This is the only biography I've finished. I kept visualizing Alcatraz while reading, although Edward Bunker did most of his time in San Quentin, further down the bay, as the youngest inmate ever. Later he wrote several books, and appeared in numerous movies, such as Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.

What does all this mean? Nothing, I guess. But I kept taking pictures of Alcatraz when we left some days ago. I suddenly felt overwhelmed by this place.