Reading material for those who love the camping life

By: Harald Vingelsgaard
Caravan and Caravan magazine, No. 3 June 2019

Mjøsa's white swan: Brilliant tour with Skibladner

Join us on a tour with Skibladner at Mjøsa, the world's oldest wheel steamer that is still on track. Tuut! The water vapor opens up over the barrel. The ship arrives at Hamar. Welcome abord! The crew at Skibladner welcome us aboard the ship that can accommodate up to 230 people. This day there are most Norwegians, but also some foreigners on tour.

The sun is shining from a cloudless sky. It is hot. It's summertime. The passengers will sit outside on the deck. Many people sit on the boxes with life jackets. Others have found orchestra space on the top deck. Some have ordered special service in advance, ie dinner on board. These take their place in the fine restaurants. The skipper leaves from the quay, and we see Hamar from the sea, with Hamar Cathedral as the major landmark. On the other side of the ship we see some small boats on the horizon.

"Dar the Steam"

The landmark in the Wish Concert from the 1960s comes to mind as we head towards Gjøvik. The steam is standing and the impeller wheels are going. Soon we are far, far from Hamar. When we look towards land, we see large fields. In some places magnificent yellow corn fields. Wonderful farms, large farms, down to Mjøsa in Ringsaker. People on board take pictures with their mobile phones, some also carry a camera. Here they get many snapshots, which can be nice postcards. The skipper is steadily heading.

steeped in history

Skibladner is a ship with a historic whisper. The ship was commissioned as far back as 1856. Since then, it has been operating between Eidsvoll and Lillehammer. The ship is a steamer, that is, a ship with a steam engine that drives impeller wheels. These wheels are located on the side of the boat and they provide momentum. Skibladner is such a special boat, historically interesting, that it was protected by the National Antiquities many years ago. We glimpse Gjøvik. Soon we will arrive at Skibladner's home. A few years ago, a protective building was built in glass for Skibladner on Gjøvik. The commander steered the ship steadily with the helm. We call Gjøvik. People come, people go. Time to take in new passengers. We will continue to Moelv and Lillehammer.

new Traffic

When Skibladner started to go on route in the mid-1800s, it became a useful ship to bring people, passenger traffic between Eidsvoll, Hamar, Gjøvik, Moelv and Lillehammer. Skibladner was also important for shipping mail. We leave Gjøvik behind us and keep heading north towards Moelv, which is on the other side of Mjøsa, between Hamar and Lillehammer. A woman from Manchester, England, has come on board. Lovely, she says. She enjoys life aboard the special ship Skibladner, as the other passengers seem to do. Skibladner is a tourist attraction. About 20.000 people sail this boat every summer season.

Oj. Far on the horizon we glimpse a large bridge, the Mjøs bridge between Moelv and Biri. But it is still half an hour until we call Moelv. We take a trip around the ship to get to know Skibladner and the people who work there.

On the bridge

Skibladner's Captain Erik Olsen welcomes you on the bridge. - "I have a summer job as captain at Skibladner. I have had that for seven summers, after I retired at work in Bergesen, "- he says. In Bergesen, he was the skipper of large gas tankers, that is, tankers that carried gas, out on the big world seas, year after year. The ships were so large that a long, long row of Skibladner boats could be accommodated on deck. - "Skibladner is a boat with soul," - he adds. Skibladner is more difficult to control than the large tankers he sailed with because technology was at the top of the gas tankers, while Skibladner has to be controlled much more manually. Old fashioned. - "It is more difficult to maneuver Skibladner, because you have to do everything yourself," - he says.

Severe weather

The day before we met him, there was a storm on Mjøsa with a storm in the worst places. It was so bad that they couldn't add quay to Hamar, but when they came over to the other side, Gjøvik, there was better wind conditions so they could add quay there. The weather is very rare in Mjøsa as it was that day. In other words, the weather can turn from miserable to peak overnight. The skipper grabs the "machine telegraph," a lever with which he decides the speed, while the commander is at the helm. Soon, the skipper also goes to the helm. We are approaching Moelv, we see a campsite that is idyllically located down the edge of the lake. Over the speakers, the guide tells a little about Moelv as an industrial city and other historical things.

The skipper thinks we should go for a walk and talk to the people in the engine room. As I said so done.

cramped

 We descend the steep stairs down to the engine room. There is a low ceiling in the engine room. The room is packed with engine and technical equipment. "Hello!" Machine director Torfinn Gulseth and machinist Jarle Edvardsen follow the machinery. Gulseth says this is a triple expansion steam engine that delivers 606 horsepower. After a little tour of the engine room, we thank you for the chat and go up again. There is much to look at on this boat. The restaurants for example. They are a bit exclusive.

Travel waiter

We meet waiter Sunniva Høiberg Pehrson. She - and the other waiters on board - are very busy serving dinner. Salmon and strawberries. Norwegian salmon with cucumber salad, new potatoes and Sandefjord butter. The new potatoes come from Gubberud farm in Ringsaker. Usually it is strawberries from Toten, Nes and Biri. Short trip. But this time, imported berries were served - after the strawberry season around Lake Mjøsa. She carries five plates of strawberries at the same time, to the people who sit at the tables and enjoy themselves out on Lake Mjøsa. The restaurants have historical names: «Første Plads Madsalon», «Røgesalong» and «Dame & Herre salong».

Postcards

Skibladner still has a post office, at least something similar. The ship sells Skibladner postcards on board. People write a greeting, get the postcard stamped with Skibladner's own stamp and put it in the red mailbox on the boat. Time is fast on Skibladner on a glorious summer day. Three and a half hours after we left Hamar, we call Lillehammer. We thank you for the trip and get off the boat. The ship returns to Moelv and Gjøvik. A particularly nice trip with a very special ship is over. Or as some of the travelers said as soon as they were back on land: Fairytale. Fantastic. Great. Glorious. Yes, people were so excited that they probably recommend friends and acquaintances to join us on a tour with Skibladner next year.

Ski leaflets timetables

Skibladner runs two different routes on different days of the week. The southbound route goes from Gjøvik to Kapp, on to Hamar and Eidsvoll, before returning the same way back to Gjøvik on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. In addition, the boat calls at Evjua and Nes only on Sundays. The northbound route runs several times between the towns of Mjøs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: Gjøvik-Hamar-Gjøvik, Gjøvik-Moelv-Lillehammer, Lillehammer-Moelv-Gjøvik, Gjøvik-Hamar-Gjøvik. Ski leaves do not go in the winter. In 2018, the season was from the end of June to mid-August, in addition came charter trips.

tempering Places

Parking for those traveling with Skibladner:

  • Gjovik: Bryggvegen 1.
  • Hamar: Jetty 31.
  • Lillehammer: Vingnes Gata.
  • Moelv: Strandvegen 27.
  • Hobart: Eidsvollvegen 154.
  • Cape: 2849 head.
  • EVJU: Evjuvegen 30, 2848 Skreia.
  • Nose: Tingnesvegen 794.

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