Monday 9 July 2018
The woodturning cruise organised by Odd Erik of Verktoy AS in Norway is known around the world. Indeed, take a look at the list of the attendees for last August's trip and you will see a mix of many different nationalities to reinforce this fact. The reason for this is that it is unique in the world, essentially being a seminar on water. Not only are there turning demonstrators catering for many tastes and styles, there are representatives of several different manufacturers showing the latest tools and equipment and how to use them.
There are also carving and sharpening demonstrators too, as well as the promise of fantastic scenery.
Turning on water
The unique blend of different aspects of the cruise certainly intrigued me, and having read about and published reports on the previous events, I was stunned when I was asked if I wanted to demonstrate on the cruise last August. I was immediately excited but also a touch apprehensive. After all, it was going to consist of 11 days at sea. Would the rocking of the ship enable me to create a new texturing technique? However, I need not have worried. The MS Gann was the largest ship Odd Erik had ever used for the cruise and – bar one sole night of slightly rough seas – was very stable on the water.
There was an amazing amount to do on board. The demonstrations and training were of a very high standard. Of particular interest to guests was the ability to use the lathes on board, allowing novices to experience turning for the first time. Two people undertook the tuition, and guests simply paid for the wood and turned what they liked using the tools supplied, all of which took place on a lower deck also housing the shopping area. There were demonstrations whilst cruising from destination to destination, and the lathes for practising on were accessible from six in the morning to 12 at night.
Ports of call
When the ship docked at any one of the 12 ports en route, the demonstrations really got going, with people from the area coming on board to see some turning up close. This created a fantastic atmosphere, much like a small-scale woodworking show. The eight turning demonstrators worked in rotation, so we all got the opportunity to go ashore and have a look at the surrounding area. There were excursions available as optional extras, allowing us to take in the breathtaking scenery and local life. These proved very popular and needed to be booked in advance to guarantee places. Some of us discovered that the fishing was particularly good, with cod and pollock aplenty!
The destinations meant that we were able to see older, historical sites as well as vibrant new cities both in and around the Arctic Circle.
I think everyone got involved in the scenery aspect of the trip. The decks were always packed with people looking around as we passed mountains, little villages, isolated houses and fjords. I snapped over 200 images during my time on and off the ship and I know that many people took more than one memory card for their cameras.
The food onboard was also superb. Breakfast was presented as a buffet-style affair, as was lunch. I will admit to eating more than my fair share of the salmon on offer nearly every day, and the evening meals offered a selection of both hot and cold food. Special dietary requirements were catered for when registered in advance, and a few impromptu requests too. Some even said there was too much food on offer!
I admit to having quite a hankering to go and live in some of the places I saw. Ideally, I would like to go back in the heart of winter. As for the Norwegian people, it was a delight meeting and sharing experiences with them and all the other people on the cruise.
It is very difficult to describe the experience. Stunning, exciting, and fun do not seem to sum up the cruise adequately. All the people I spoke to enjoyed the experience and were immensely glad they came. It is in my opinion one of the top 10 turning experiences available, and I heartily recommend it. The next cruise is scheduled for 2011.