It's after 10 p.m., and the sunlight is just starting to fade. Twilight mixes with drizzle as we cruise into the harbor, hoping for a place to tie up that doesn't involve a halfdozen lines and a spread of rocks at the base of a towering fjord. I peek from beneath the hood of my bright-yellow, Gorton's Fisherman jacket. Clumps of people cavort onshore-windowshopping, bar-hopping, and walking off what were undoubtedly massive dinner plates of freshly caught salmon. The locals carry umbrellas the way the rest of us might wear a wristwatch, just part of the daily ensemble in a place where it rains, on average, 219 days each year.
Capt. Charles Houal maneuvers our Swan 62, Early Purple, past the bulbous bow of an oil tanker tied up near the ferry dock. It's one of at least a half-dozen behemoths sharing the harbor with pleasure boats tonight, like a collective welcome mat announcing Norway's status as Europe's leading oil and natural gas producer. Mate Arnaud Tallemet and chef Aurore Brin scramble on deck, and soon we're tucked in just like the big boys.
Our lines look like the thinnest pull of dental floss next to the commercial-grade monsters, but no matter. We'll share the cleats for the night-that is, what little of night there will be. This is the city of Bergen, Norway's second largest after the capital of Oslo. We're about 400 miles south of the Arctic Circle. It is early August, so the sun will be back up in about four hours. It doesn't so much set here as wink between fleeting moments of dusk and dawn.