Friday, 8 June 2012

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Docked next to a tugboat

We were fortunate to witness the Transit of Venus – an event which has occurred only 4 times since 1769 when James Cook made his voyage halfway around the world to Point Venus Tahiti to use measurements taken from Venus's transit across the sun's surface to consolidate the statistics he needed for navigation. This ultimately lead to the development of the chronometer and efficient clocks  for which we sailors need be ever grateful.

For us modern-day folks, the Transit is a barely perceptible blip on the landscape of our busy lives where time is marked by numerous events: historic events on TV … Olympics … elections. These range down in importance to new TV shows …  new songs … new friends …. These range right down to grocery shopping … and doing the laundry.

It was with this last and most humble but necessary task that we busied ourselves all day Thursday. Laundry could be ignored for a very long time in this climate. It’s hard to exercise enough to even break a sweat in this cold pure air. No matter how ardent, one cannot soil the sheets and the towels (used 2 weeks) don’t smell at all. However … there IS a limit and our laundry had reached that limit some weeks ago. 

From the Turistinformasjon Office we heard that there’s no Laundromat in town. The only place with machines to rent was at Tromsø Campground.

We learned from our taxi driver on the way out of town to the campground that a Laundromat had opened but foundered and closed during the long winter when it was not patronized. We were in luck and were able to rent the laundry facilities.

When we entered the tiny room with its 2 occupants (only one washer and one dryer) we found our old nemesis from Molde – the Tørketrommelen machine with the now-familiar skap, skan, stryke and rulletort markings. All over Europe these condensing dryers are replacing the old kind because no-one wants to knock a hole in their wall for a vent pipe.. This machine works by using the heat generated by the dryer to get moisture out of the drying clothes, condense it back into water and then pipe it out of the back of the dryer into a run-off system. The run-off system never did work and we were forced to delve into the machine and empty it ourselves every few minutes. The delicate sensing device which should have helped the machine tell when the clothes were “locker-dry" (skaptort) had been thrown off by campers who never checked the water tank.

We’d rented the units for 4 hours (which we thought would be plenty of time for our 4 loads). It actually took 7 hours, and we’re still surrounded by various items hanging from ledges inside the saloon. The cost for the washer and dryerl plus the 2 taxi rides was $620 kroner (over $100). But if we’d tried to get these items washed in a local hotel (the other option) it would have cost many times that amount. Now we’re free to spend a few days provisioning and (hopefully) seeing a few local sights.

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