Sailing the Seven Seas

By Odd Andersen

Pop sailed from Norway for the first time at age 14 or 15 (approximately 1907).

He sailed to various locations around the world for approximately 3 years, including one or two seasons whaling to the South Pole area, South Georgia, Falkland Islands. In that time period, he came home to Norway 2 times.

At age 17 or 18, he sailed from Norway to Australia. Sailing time was 80 to 100 days. This was during approximately 1911/1912.

Pop landed in Melbourne on the south eastern part of Australia. The course was due south from Norway and then around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and then across the Indian Ocean to Melbourne.

After arriving in Melbourne, Pop and his friend (shipmate) were given leave for two days. When they got back to their ship, it had already departed. Needless to say the two young men were very frightened, being in a strange country and not knowing the English language very well. They proceeded to the Norwegian Embassy and were told to wait for the next Norwegian ship, which they did, all the while checking in every day for any news. After waiting 6 or 7 days, they received the terrible news that the sailing ship they were on and missed, went down in a storm with all hands lost (1912).

After that, they were afraid to go back on a sailing ship, spending the next 8-10 years while remaining in Australia, spending the time working as lumbermen for iron wood and also for various coastal shipping lines. Around 1920, Pop decided to go back on the square riggers, sailing on and off, mostly on up until 1932.

In between sailing trips, he often took land jobs, such as stone cutting, which he learned in Norway at a young age. His father was a stone cutter. He also took jobs working as a lumberjack in Ontario, Canada, and also in Wisconsin, Oregon and California.

In and around the year 1929/1930 he spent time in Seattle, at which time he read about a large settlement of Norwegians who were living in Brooklyn, New York. In Seattle he signed on to a sailing ship that was bound for Mobile, Alabama. His course was due south around “Cape Horn”, South America. They made one stop at the Falkland Islands for provisions, then sailed due north for Mobile. This trip alone probably took three months. Once in Mobile, he planned on taking a train to New York. However, when he landed in Mobile, after getting “paid off”, he checked into a hotel, and had supper that night at the hotel. The next thing he knew, he woke up the following morning in his bed after someone had given him a sedative. Much to his dismay, all of his money had been stolen, including his one-way ticket by train to New York. Since he had no other choice, he had to return on the same sailing ship to Seattle where he had started from.He continued working from Seattle on sailing ships for the next two years. In 1932, he finally arrived in New York where he eventually met Mom. She told him that if he wanted to marry her, he had to stop sailing, which he agreed to do. He was 40 years old at the time. By that time he had experienced 26 years of adventures, which he never boasted about, but after much prodding, the stories came out in bits and pieces. Many was the time after I came home from work, we would sit on the porch and talk, and bit by bit I did get information on the various places he had visited throughout the years.

Today, people pay several thousand dollars to sail on cruise ships and not get to see one quarter of what he got to see. You can imagine that there were many places that he sailed to. Some of these places were, for instance, Madagascar, India, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan.

One day, while sitting on our porch at home, I happened to ask him if he was ever scared when a dangerous storm hit. His answer was yes, but they were always too busy keeping the ship steady and heading into the wind, so there wasn’t time to think of the danger.

The worst time for them was not so much when a storm hit, but when he sailed into the doldrums which meant there was no wind. At these times they would drift for days on end, which was nerve wrecking for the crew. The captain had to keep everyone busy scrubbing the decks, etc., so fights would not break out, but this was not always successful.

Other ships Pop worked on for a while were the Iron Ore ships to Duluth, but I just don’t know the year or years when this transpired.

So now in the year 2018 , in a high tech society with computers and high speed transportation, where people pay thousands of dollars to go on fancy cruises, and brag about them -o just think, Pop was born in February 1893, it could just as well have been 1793, just remember he was not alone in this endeavor. Many young men of his generation, especially those from Norway, took part in adventures, all the while making a living, and not thinking anything of it. There’s an old saying, “the sea never tires of the sailor, but the sailor tires of the sea”.

This information and stories that I had gotten from Pop as I said, took place on our little porch on 57th Street in Brooklyn. Pop would be sitting on the porch waiting for me to come home from work. We would talk about many things, and he would always ask about my work with the Dockbuilders. And so the conversation would go on. I often asked him about his sailing days, and he was happy to talk about them. This would go on for probably two or three years before I got married and moved away from that cozy porch.