When motivational speaker, adventurer and author Dave Cornthwaite decided to ‘say yes more’, it changed his life. We caught up with him to find out how embracing adventure in both the every day and the extreme would eventually lead to him peddling a water bike 1,243 miles along the Norwegian coast, Hurtigruten’s ships keeping him company along the way.
When Dave Cornthwaite was 25, he woke up and realised that the best thing in his life was his cat. And that his cat was – in Dave’s own words – “cooler than I was”. He had lived in the same town for six years, never bothering to explore much further than the end of his street. He had a steady girlfriend and possessed remarkably strong thumbs as a result of hours on the PlayStation. Fast-forward a year and he had given everything up, including the cat, and set off on a mission to skateboard 3,618-miles from Perth to Brisbane. Mere months had passed since he first set foot on a skateboard but he completed the task in hand, breaking a Guinness World Record in the process and realising that he had never felt more alive.
While he didn’t appreciate it at the time, this journey by means of skateboard would become one of 25 1,000-mile-or-more journeys made using a different form of non-motorised transport. The ‘pet project’ would come to be known as Expedition1000 and it would eventually bring Dave together with Hurtigruten and the Norwegian coast.
Hurtigruten and Dave Cornthwaite
Hurtigruten and Dave Cornthwaite are a match made in heaven, he the adventurer and they the expedition cruise line. Dave’s life-affirming ‘SayYesMore’ motto resonated from their first meeting almost two years ago, so when his attentions turned to peddling a water-powered Schiller bike along the ‘Hurtigruten’ route from which the cruise line got its name, it went without saying that they would be involved along the way. It would be a huge challenge, one which the captains of some Hurtigruten ships – experts in these waters – said that Dave simply could not do. But with his supplies waterproofed, Dave set off from Kirkenes in July 2017 on what he describes as one of his most difficult journeys to date.
It took 61 days to complete the Hurtigruten route by Schiller bike, sometimes with killer whales or puffins for company on fleeting moments of the 14-hour days, and sometimes with Hurtigruten’s ships, guests and crew for support too. Dave became the ‘smallest ship in the Hurtigruten fleet’ and it wasn’t unusual for his bigger fleet mates to pause mid-fjord with gestures of encouragement for one of their own. MS Lofoten cast overboard a care package in his direction, filled with snacks and clean clothes. MS Richard With went a step further, delivering a takeaway direct to Dave’s bike. But it was MS Spitsbergen and its crew that went all out, creating the world’s first waterbike drive-thru. And so it came to be that on a foggy afternoon somewhere in the Norwegian fjords, Dave found himself on the ship’s tender deck tucking into a burger and chips, plus a bottle of Coca-Cola in a champagne bucket, with the ship’s 500 guests watching on from above.
When it wasn’t the guest, crew and cuisine on Hurtigruten ships keeping Dave’s spirits up, it was the locals he met along the Norwegian route. Visiting the same towns and villages Hurtigruten’s ships have called into for more than 175 years, Dave arrived via water bike and while the vessels may differ, the warm welcome was the same. People offered him meals to eat and places to sleep, if he could tear himself away from outdoors spots with a near-constant view of the Norwegian fjords. For one night only, he traded his tent for Fordypningsrommet, the world’s most northern artist’s retreat, founded by musician Håvard Lund. Dave would later return to the cosy nook on the coast, spending a month of winter holed away writing a book about the challenging Norwegian journey.
On 2nd October 2017, Dave arrived in Bergen, his challenge complete and his backside rather saddle sore after bobbing around on a bike on the waves for the last two months. Their ships had been there for him when his spirits were flagging and Dave would go on to sail with Hurtigruten twice over the next year.
“I did it the hard way the first time I did the Norwegian coast, so I definitely appreciated the comfort of seeing it by ship the second time around!” he said.
“It’s a great way to get around, just getting dropped off at these little places along the coast, then going off to explore. As a holiday, it’s the one I’d choose”
And that is the story of how Hurtigruten came to be the expedition cruise line with a record-breaking adventurer’s seal of approval.