6.30 pm, 66°13’13″N. An Arctic tern wings past the sun, which is high in the west above a row of bunched fluffy grey clouds. A broad platinum path blazes to the horizon beneath it. The east wind is getting colder and the mountains behind it increasingly snow-covered: an unending panorama of tiny pointed peaks, uplifting and continually startling to look at. Ahead loom the Træna islands, steep bumps growing ominously; one island a single jagged fang, almost frightening to look at.

9.35 pm, 66°28’54″N. The wind has picked up to about fifteen knots and we’re flying along at well over six. Up, up we go, over the surface of the rounded world, the minutes of latitude rushing by our hull.

9.45 pm, 66°30’0″N. We’re looking into the Arctic now, past the sharp teeth of Træna, towards distant ranges of snowy peaks, whipped like icing on a Christmas cake. A slight yellow glow warms their north-west-facing hollows as the sun slowly gravitates across the sky; as we ride north to greet it.

10.08 pm, 66°33’02″N. I sit with the handheld GPS and watch the numbers tick upwards.

10.14pm, 66°33’48″N. We have crossed the Arctic Circle! The sun lies behind a bank of grey cloud in the north-west with small scraps of cloud below it outlined in livid gold. A patch of rainbow hangs in front of the mountains to the east, the sharp peaks beyond all softened by the sun’s rosy-tinged touch. Ahead, above the northern horizon, a clear band of sky stretches like a luminous yellow promise. We sail on towards it.

foredeck and mainmast of boat on cold sea with pale yellow light on the far horizon ahead

Norwegian Sea
8th June 2017