Us, the long distance sailors
Halvard Eneberg (skipper) and Ann-Helen Elstad (manager).
We started this lifestyle about 12 years ago as we had just moved into a new apartment in Trondheim, and were both recent graduates as mechanical engineer and nurse, when we both began to wonder if this regular life was our style.
We have always loved to travelling around, but it has been limited to regular holiday trips. We came across a blog about a family that was on earth sailing for 3 years, and after dreaming away in this for a few days it was done; We were going on a sailing trip, far! Halvard has grown up with a motorboat, but none of us had any sailing experience before. We therefore decided to buy a small 26 foot sailboat with a couple of friends. After a private course and some clumsiness around the Trondheimsfjord that summer, we became quite good at sailing. In addition, there were some trips along the Helgeland coast and a couple of trips over to Shetland.
5 years later we could see a hope of realizing our dream, and we searched finn.no for the perfect long-distance boat. Finally we found a Norwegian-owned boat called “Værbitt” which was already equipped for long-distance sailing. The problem was that it was in Panama. Halvard was not afraid of the dark, and eagerly took on the task of sailing the boat home for us, while Ann-Helen completed house building at home. We agreed with the owner of the boat, who transported it to New York, and Halvard took two friends with him to transport the boat home. Halvard had moderate experience, and the other two had never sailed before. Together they ended up in the storms of the times, and had to learn to cope with the realities by crossing the North Atlantic in April. The rest of the horror story can be read here: https://www.sy-wilhelm.com/news/avreise/.
The following year was the start of the long trip we had planned for so many years, We sold our newly built house in Trondheim, and sailed our own sea with the newly named “Wilhelm”, from the Azores via the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean to Australia. Long story short. Together we spent 4 years and left about 20,000 nautical miles behind us, before we ended up selling the boat in Australia. Then the wallet was emptied and the desire for adventure restrained for a little while.
In 2019 we came home, and decided to try our luck here in the north, on Grytøya, where Halvard grew up. We wanted to continue the sailing lifestyle, but at the same time be able to make a living from it. And already in May the same year we found Bifrost on finn.no. Bifrost was then called “Two flies”, and was resting in Rørvik, after sailing around the world and collecting about 1 million kroner for UNICEF.
With “Bifrost” as our new workplace, we have a vision to be able to bring guests on board and show off Harstad’s archipelago from its very best sides.
2020 was supposed to be the starting year for tours on board Bifrost, the same year that the pandemic forces the tourism industry, and the rest of the world, to its knees. We have had to think differently, and much of the operation involved bareboat rental to experienced and skilled Norwegian skippers with their families. We have had the opportunity to plan and test new concepts, such as “skiing and sailing” and “kayaking” together with guides and partners here in Harstad. We have held our first sailing courses, as well as had some day and weekend trips with families and cohort groups. It has been challenging to have to pay attention to infection control, and we have been in dialogue with visit Harstad and the municipality to get help in arranging our trips. All in all, we have done quite well, and we are lucky, compared to other companies that have gone bankrupt and closed down operations that have been built up over many years.
Fortunately, we have several legs to stand on. Halvard has also worked as a machinist and led the youth project “young blood” through Anna Rogde, while Ann-Helen has worked as a nurse at the intensive care unit in Harstad.
Sustainability, environment and local youth work
We believe in a sustainable tourism, where local actors in Harstad are linked together to create an exciting and attractive destination. There is a lot that can be combined with sailing, and we will try to connect with several local tourism companies in the local area. In this way, our guests can combine the sailing trip with, for example, kayaking and bicycle rental, guided ski and mountain trips, as well as exciting dining experiences with local ingredients. At the same time, we want to help young people by engaging them in our work on board the boats.
Taking care of the environment and nature is an important element in our values. Sailing itself is an environmentally friendly activity and method of access, and we want to use the engine as little as possible. We want to help keep the beaches clean where we are, and also encourage our guests to clean up after themselves, and remove the rubbish they may find both above and below water. We are happy to contribute to storage and delivery at the nearest environmental station.