Nine months of surfing north of the polar circle

In ice-cold, complete loneliness and without creature comforts, Inge and Jørn spent nine months over the winter in a little hut, which they had built from flotsam and jetsam in a remote norwegian bay north of the polar circle. For most people this would be unimaginable, but for the two enthusiastic surfers this was a possibility to combine their thirst for adventure and their passion for surfing with the plan to call attention to the increasing pollution of the ocean.
But let‘s go back to the beginning. Inge and Jørn, who meet each other for the first time at the Nordland Kunst- og Filmfagskole in Lofoten, share their love for nature and are both thrilled by snowboarding and surfing. During one of their hikes they come by a lonely and remote bay; but the beauty of this place is disturbed by masses of washed up plastic garbage. In this moment, the idea of an extraordinary project is born: Inge and Jørn decide to spend nine months over the wintertime in the bay, build a hut of flotsam and jetsam, go surfing during the day, and videotape it all. Thus begins their greatest adventure. It‘s September 2011 when the adventure finally starts. With their minibus, fueled by vegetable oil they drive trough late summer Norway to the coast, take their packs, and set out on foot over mountains towards the bay. An uneasy feeling stays when thinking of the long time of isolation. But despite their friends’ lack of confidence, who tell them, that both of them would soon go crazy, Inge and Jørn stay optimistic and look forward to their personal adventure.

“We have both had families that challenged us to do practical things when growing up”, Inge and Jørn tell me. And while they don‘t have any prior experience in building a house, they just go for it and create a wonderful, cozy, crooked masterpiece in the last mild days of autumn. Most of the building materials, Inge and Jørn find at the beach. Only the windows, which are made from the doors of washing machines, they have to carry from a garbage dump to their little paradise.

When winter comes, their new home, which they have outfitted with a little oven, offers shelter from the cold, the snow and the wind. Despite the short days and long cold nights, both of them never think about ending the icy adventure early. At christmas time, they celebrate in the little hut, even with a small christmas tree which they have found at the other site of the mountains surrounding the bay.

In the few hours of twilight that remain in those days of winter north of the polar circle, they have to decide if they are going to jump into the water and surf or if they spend their time collecting and chipping wood. Because there is one rule: The oven must never go out at temperatures between -10° and -15° Celsius. Beside doing lots of small repairs and improvements to the small hut, chipping wood, surfing, or devouring Einstein‘s theory of relativity, there isn‘t much time to think about the sense or nonsense of their undertaking; thus, only one thought remains after awakening and before falling asleep: “Is there surf…? Is there going to be surf tomorrow?”

If I was to go to an abandoned and remote bay, well, probably I would take some pictures of my beloved with me and would take them out in the moments of loneliness to imagine my nice, warm, and familiar home. But in Inge‘s and Jørn‘s hut there aren‘t such photos of family and friends; instead I find framed pictures of the King and Queen of

 

Norway, Harald V and Sonja. “It‘s a tradition in Norway to have pictures of royals on the outdoor toilets.”, they explain. This tradition comes from the habit of wiping the bum with newspapers. When somebody came across a picture of the royal couple, people rather hung up this picture on the wall than to wipe themselves with it out of respect. With the pictures of the royal couple, given to them by Jørn‘s father before their departure, Jørn and Inge decorate not only the interior of the hut, but also the outhouse. Although Harald and Sonja get such a prominent place in the little nest, the two guys, of course, miss their family and friends.

It becomes clear why Inge and Jørn say that they missed vegetables most beside family and friends when one has a look at what prize they bring from their trips to the next supermarket: carrot cake, meet balls, mashed potatoes… simply everything that is non-perishable, and most importantly, expired. Because expired food is cheap food, at least in this remote area of Norway.

During the nine months Inge and Jørn collected three tons of washed up garbage. Much of it useless, some of it quite strange: for example, a huge yellow thing of which they think it was used to measure waves or something like that. But they also found condoms, suppositories, something that looks like morphine, fresh lemons, and altogether five messages-in-a-bottle with letters from children – asking for help to escape from pirates or with small nice poems about the earth and the moon. One or another of the findings proved to be really useful for the extension of the hut. The most useful thing was a big piece of plastic, which could be used to seal the hut.

Inge and Jørn have arrived back in the warmth a long time ago. But several times each year, they try to return to their bay. There they spend the nights in the little hut, which is still intact and which shelters all the visitors that find it by chance, and enjoy the loneliness and the good waves. Although Inge currently has to go without such big projects, because he just became a father of a little girl, the next adventure is waiting. At the moment he is already working an a new film project, “The Bear Island”. As expected, in this new film he‘s searching for the perfect wave at the end of the world together with his two brothers.

But there is still one more thing I want to know from Inge and Jørn: What does home/nest mean for you and what do you need to be comfortable? They both agree that their hideout first of all needs to be warm and that it must have the possibility to stand up without bumping the head in the roof. In addition to that, it should be cozy. You should be able to brush your teeth inside, and it should have a stove to cook food on, windows for letting in light, and enough place to walk a bit around and to store wood. But for a place, in which they would want to stay a little bit longer than nine months, they definitely could image to add some more things to the wish list.

During the nine months Inge and Jørn collected three tons of washed up garbage. Much of it useless, some of it quite strange: for example, a huge yellow thing of which they think it was used to measure waves or something like that. But they also found condoms, suppositories, something that looks like morphine, fresh lemons, and altogether five messages-in-a-bottle with letters from children – asking for help to escape from pirates or with small nice poems about the earth and the moon. One or another of the findings proved to be really useful for the extension of the hut. The most useful thing was a big piece of plastic, which could be used to seal the hut.

Inge and Jørn have arrived back in the warmth a long time ago. But several times each year, they try to return to their bay. There they spend the nights in the little hut, which is still intact and which shelters all the visitors that find it by chance, and enjoy the loneliness and the good waves. Although Inge currently has to go without such big projects, because he just became a father of a little girl, the next adventure is waiting. At the moment he is already working an a new film project, “The Bear Island”. As expected, in this new film he‘s searching for the perfect wave at the end of the world together with his two brothers.

But there is still one more thing I want to know from Inge and Jørn: What does home/nest mean for you and what do you need to be comfortable? They both agree that their hideout first of all needs to be warm and that it must have the possibility to stand up without bumping the head in the roof. In addition to that, it should be cozy. You should be able to brush your teeth inside, and it should have a stove to cook food on, windows for letting in light, and enough place to walk a bit around and to store wood. But for a place, in which they would want to stay a little bit longer than nine months, they definitely could image to add some more things to the wish list.

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