2018 Sailing in the North

Wednesday 20 to Saturday 23 Skrova to Bodø

We are now in Bodø, on the last day of this part of the sail tour. Moored right in the central part of the town. We will celebrate our last night at Egon’s restaurant. It’s up the gangway, across the street and through the door!

But read on for updates from the last few days.

Wednesday we set out from Skrova to cross the Vestfjorden again, back to the mainland side. The forecast was for SW breeze, and it held all the way across. Visibility was poor, but we had a nice sail. This time the wind and the current cooperated, so instead of croppy seas, we had long and pleasant waves of 2-3 metres, and nearly a hundred metres long. We came in to Skutvik, in Hamarøy a little past noon. John was glad to get over to the other side. He has crossed this stretch of water many enough times to give it respect!

Some more pics from Skrova:

Farewell to Skrova:

We came in by Øksnes

to Skutvik with its nice marina.

We took a bus to the Hamsun centre, ca 15 km away, to see the special architecture by Stephen Holl, inspired by Hansun’s novels. It is designed to reflect the shifting and complicated moods of his caracters, and the building itself resembles a man. But there was also interesting exhibitions and information about the author himself. From the window in the corner, we could see across to where he stayed when he wrote The Growth of the Earth (Markens Grøde).

We also passed his birth place.

Next stop was Kjerringøy on Thursday. It was a wet seven hours by motor. But Friday morning we woke up to a blue sky. Kjerringøy has a 200 year old and very well preserved marketing centre, which we only briefly visited as it was not open for the public until the afternoon. But we stopped in at a traditional boatbuilder, where a young lady from Germany now works. She explained to us some of the techniques.

Here’s an example of the beautiful traditional boats of Nordland, lying in the marina. And a nice version of one of Colin Archer’s designs.

This one is for sale. A close relative of Vestavind, but three feet longer and very well equipped. Shall I?

At Kjerringøy, they have invested heavily in sea tourism.

Sailing to Bodø on Friday was pure pleasure, although still with three layers of wool under a heavy jacket.

Hurtigruta (coastal express) is a familiar and dear sight along the coast.

Coming in to Bodø.

We were quite pleased with ourselves, but look at these:

This little 21 foot boat from 1954, yes, it’s true!, with an engine just as old, is on its way from Kirkenes to Kragerø, practically the entire Norwegian coast, with one man and his wife, who went home from Bodø. Incredible and impressive! Today two friends joined him, to continue further south.

And this 33 foot sailboat from Malmø, with a young couple, is on its way to Svalbard. She is a real ocean goer! Many nice and interesting people to meet and talk to!

Tuesday 19 Skrova

As mentioned, Skrova is a little island community with a population of around one hundred. Some of them work in the fishing industry. There is also a company that handles whale meat. Others work in the tourist industry, which also here is quite big, especially in summer. There are 19 places which offer accomodation, and eight eating facilities. There are several artists, like at Henningsvær. One of the places is Aasjordbruket, known from Morten Støksnes» book Havboka (Shark Drunk).

According to the bartender at one of the places, all the accomodation is full for the summer. People come in groups or by themselves, or in their own boats like us. There is a ferry which commutes several times each day between Svolvær, Skrova and Skutvik on the other side of Vestfjorden.

Monday 18 Henningsvær, Kabelvåg, Svolvær and Skrova

Monday was day of harbour hopping. The morning was spent in Henningsvær. This is a little town on an island, connected with bridges to the mainland. It is a place where many artists have established their studios, among them a ceramist and glassblowers.

We had heard that Yoko Ono had an installation by the light house south of the town. This is also near the football field, which is surrounded by fish scaffolds. But the installation was not there any mor. The light house and the buildings are in private ownership. We were met by a dog and a woman who made it quite clear that we were not welcome. But at least we got to see the football field with the fishing environment!

Next was Kabelvåg. Here we find the Lofoten Cathedral, the biggest wooden church north of Trondheim. It can seat up to 1200 people.

From Kabelvåg there was just a short leg to Svolvær. The batteries were dead, and had to be replaced. We also had a nice meal of bacalao at Bacalao. There were several nice boats in the harbour.

The last leg this day was to Skrova, a little island community one hour’s sail to the east of Svolvær. We found berth at a pontoon that belonged to a fish factory, free of charge.

My galley slaves (actually, Leif and I did the carrying, we had to walk some ways to the shop).

We found this in an alley. Much better!

Sunday 17 Reine to Henningsvær

Sunday came with bright skies and a light south east breeze. We could pull out our genaker and cruise along up the coast as long as the wind lasted. First, we stopped in Nusfjord, a beautiful, well preserved fishing village, now a museum.

Next stop was Ballstad, from where we motorsailed to Henningsvær, coming into the harbour at midnight. Here are some pictures.

Out of Reine. It looks different now!


What a farewell!

Enjoying a summer sail at midnight!

Friday 15 and Saturday 16

There was no choice now, we just had to stay put and wait for better weather. Although we were safely moored in a well protected harbour, we could really hear and feel the wind. We spent the days walking around exploring Reine, and Saturday we took a bus to Leknes, an hour’s ride to the north. In Reine we visited an art gallery, where some of Karl Erik Harr and his sister, Eva Harr’s work is exhibited.

In Reine, as in many other places in Lofoten, there are many «rorbuer», small cabins where visitors can stay. Rorbuer were traditionally shelters for fishers during the fishing season. They would often be very simple and crowded. Some of the old ones have been refurbished, but most of them are purposefully built for tourists.

Happy street:

Thursday 14 Værøy to Reine

Thursday was overcast with north easterly winds. We made an attempt at going north, but saw that the wind would be almost straight against us, so we turned back and decided to wait it out at Værøy. But in the evening the wind shifted a little more to the east and south east, so we made a quick desicion to try again.

But in between we berthed at another pontoon, and found signs of the roalty’s visit also here. It turned out we moored exactly where they had landed, and could make use of the royal pallet to get on and off the boat! They probably had a red carpet. But we had better shoes. The queen had had problems stepping on it with her high heels, we were told.

At Røst and Værøy we began seeing the first scaffolds for drying fish, big, Norwegian Sea cod, which is caught in great numbers in winter and hung up to dry. By now it is hard as wood. Everything from the fish is used either for human food or for industrial purposes. This is a thousand year old way of preserving food. They do it everywhere here in Lofoten.

We got up the main with two reefs and turned north east, with the wind on our starboard bows, and the engine helping too. As we got into the open strait south of Lofotodden, we made aquaintance with the infamous Mosk current, which came in from the west and collided with the wind, creating some nasty, steep waves. But John steered well and the boat handled it perfectly.

At around midnight we approached the entrance to Reine. It was dusk, because of the low clouds, and none of us had sailed into this harbour before. But the people who mark the coast for sailing and make the charts, are doing a tremendous job. We could follow the lights and sail straight in. We were moored at 1.30 a.m. and went straight to bed and slept in next morning. So good to get inside and be snug!

I talked to some Scottish sailors a few days later. They were amazed at the way the coast here has been marked. They were not used to that from their home waters on the west side of Scotland.


Wednesday 13 Myken to Værøy

Myken is definitely one of the places which stand out on this sailing trip so far. I would have liked to stay there longer, but Lofoten is another goal, and we had to take opportunity of the weather window to cross the Vestfjorden. There were gale warnings for later in the week.

The crossing over to the southernmost end of Lofoten is 45 miles. It was a warm and sunny day, but with no wind, so we motored all the way for eight hours. Eventually, Skomvær lighthouse came over the horizon. Being surrounded by skerries, shallows and currents, it is a place that you approach with respect. But the sea was calm and we went as close as we dared.

From Skomvær to Røst, we went between islands and skerries, passing through narrow sounds. There are tracks marked on the chart, which means people have been there before. The bird life was amazing!

We stopper at Røst to have dinner and a look at the place, and found that the king and the queen had been there the same day. There was a gale warning for Friday and Saturday, so we pressed on to Værøy to be in a better position to get over to mainland Lofoten before the wind. A light breeze picked up, and we had a nice three hour sail in the midnight sun, arriving at Værøy at about 1 a.m.

Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 Myken

From Træna we continued north and west to the little group of islands of Myken. One of them is inhabited by fourteen people. Number fourteen met us on the pier. On Myken there is a bed and breakfast, a lighthouse, and a destillery, among other things (the northern most in the world where they do the whole process from scratch). The water on the island is made from sea water by pumping it through sofisticated filters. Staffan Gustafsson showed is around the destillery.

There is just a few hundred meters of road. Parked off the road I found this trailer. By closer inspection I found it had been made at my father in law’s factory, and it was actually produced in 1980, the year I worked there. I could easily have helped making it!

From the south end of the island, we could see back to where we had come from that day.

Tuesday 12 Træna

We spent the night at Lovund, filled up the diesel tank next morning and motored off to Træna, a further ten miles to the north west. Træna has a very spectacular profile, which has become iconic for the Helgeland coast.

Some more pics from around Træna. This is also a living community.

Monday 11

Ellen and I visited Lovund one day in July 2005. We had 30 degrees Celsius, and a dead calm. That day we came by ferry. Now I came in my own boat. Not as warm as then, but nice weather. This is a summer holiday with sails and wool.

We moored at the King’s pier. He was here in June 2008, exactly ten years ago. High time for a new visit by celebrity! (We were to see more traces of the king later.)

I was impressed by Lovund on my first visit. Being a small community on a little island quite far off the mainland coast, it was then thriving and growing, with around 350 people, I seem to remember. And it still is. They turned 500 this year. There is fishing industry, a hotel, kindergarden with more than 50 kids, and a full primary school with 82 pupils (we met the headmaster on our evening walk).

Monday 11

The wind shifted to north early in the morning, and it looked like rain. We started out at 9.50. Turning a little north east, we got the wind on our port bow and could set sail. The clouds lifted a little. Sailing in-shore, behind low islands, in light breeze, seeing 7 knots on the log! Can it be better?

Seven sisters in the clouds there:

Our destination today is Lovund, north west of Sandnessjøen. All the islands around are low and flat, but then you have Lovund, rising 625 meters above the sea. Behind the island on the left side, you can see Træna, our destination tomorrow. From there we plan to sail across the Vestfjorden to Lofoten when the conditions are favourable.

Sunday 10

Sunday morning was quiet and overcast. Our destination was Skålvær, where I visited in August last year. We used the engine all the way for four hours, and rolled out the genoa to help the speed when there was a little breeze from the west.

On the pier in Skålvær we met Gunhild and Nils, who welcomed me last year. They promptly invited us to see the animated film that has been made of how the community might have looked like around 1900. They have made serious research in the process, having spent several thousand hours to collect all the information and producing the film. Gunhild took is to see the church from 1889. The altar piece was bought from Avaldsnes, the medieval church near Leif and John’s home. And after the tour, Gunhild and Nils served coffee and rhubarb pie!

The community has its own web site. Here you can find the film they have made, and a VR model of the place around 1900. http://www.skaalvaervel.no/?side=skalvaer—tilbake-til-1890-arene

We went for a walk on the island. Last winter, a pine forest had been cut down. This tree was only 38 years old, but look at the stem! It’s fertile here.

Saturday 9.

From Brønnøysund we steamed north for an hour to a little quiet bay where se stayed for the first night. It was a beautiful evening with clear sky and sunshine inntil we turned in. After having got the sails back on, er enjoyed a good meal with prawns (two of us).

Back in Brønnøysund

Saturday June 9. We found the boat in good shape, and were under way in 20 minutes. First a stop in Brønnøysund for shopping and filling water. Sails are not on yet, that will be the job tonight.

With John, retired coastal skipper (sailed with me last year) and his brother Leif.

Met the coastal express Polarlys on our way out.

May 1 to 3

I visited the boat for a couple of days to start making ready for the season. It was then almost eight months since I left her for the winter. There had been both storms and very cold periods, but everything was ok. She was dry below, and smelt good. Toft Marina is a very safe place for boats. And good neighbors had looked after Vestavind. Thank you very much, Magne and Frank!

One of the things I had planned to do was to lift her out and give her a good cleaning and service the propeller. I had arranged with Sigurd Siem who has a crane just north of Brønnøysund. The weather was nice, clear sky, little wind, the temperature fine, although not warm. I stopped in town on my way out. See the snow capped Seven Sisters in the background.

The rest of the time was spent pulling in the halyards, cleaning and tidying, getting a new start battery, etc. I also had to replace the bolts connecting the propeller shaft to the gear box flange. It felt good to stay onboard again! Coming back in June!

From Brønnøysund I flew to Tromsø for a conference and then Bergen on my way home. There I met these two boats:

In Tromsø, a steel boat ca 28 ft. She had sailed from Greenland via Iceland last year. Will go to Lofoten this summer.

In Bergen, this little boat, 22 ft, from 1982. They had just come across from Scotland this week, and were heading to Trondheim.

In Bergen I also met a couple in a 32 ft Vancouver, who were from Ireland. They had kept the boat here on the west coast over the winter, and were going to Lofoten.