Pentecost weekend is one of many beautiful weekends this spring. We left home Friday noon, heading north and then east, to Hjelmeland. This is a little town and the centre of a municipality that has islands, deep fjords and high mountains. Going ashore and walking around is always nice when we come to a new place (even if we have been there before).
Hjelmeland lies at a crossroads between four fjords. The inner coastal road hops unto a ten minute ferry crossing here. The fjords and the sea used to be an asset in transport of people and goods, until the middle of last century. On the sea you could travel efficiently and relatively easily. With roads and cars, fjords became a hindrance. Ferries are a continuation of the road across the sea. Now, many ferry crossings have been replaced by underwater tunnels or bridges. The fjords here are too deep and too wide for that.
Good bye to Hjelmeland for now!
Next stop, Skartveit, at Halsnøy island. Many of the islands in Ryfylke are now part of Stavanger municipality. Skartveit has become a popular stop for boaters, with a good marina and a shop and cafe. From here there is a one hour walk to the highest top of the island, 211 metres above the sea. Although not very high, there is a magnificent view over the sea scape. Ryfylke has low islands, and opens up west towards the outer coastline. To the east, there are mountains up to 1500 metres high.
The way up goes through pastures, natural mixed forest and old culture landscape. The islands in Ryfylke are lush, have a mild climate and have been inhabitated and cultivated for thousands of years.
The last night we spent at anchor in a small, beautiful bay on the east side of Randøy. Since we were here last time, must be more than ten years ago, many summer cabins have been built. Children were playing, people were enjoying a jacuzzi and music, and the whole bay just acted as a big outdoor theatre, sounds echoing off the steep sides. We could sit in the cockpit and just enjoy. The night was silent though, and the early morning was dead quiet, the sea like a mirror. Sea, island and mountains, that is Ryfylke, and the west coast.
I have sailed these waters since I was a child. First with our wooden, 26 foot motorboat. Since 2003 in sailboats. In the 60s, leasure craft were few, former fishing vessels that had been converted, and some very few sailboats. There were no facilities made for boaters. You found a steep rock to tie up to, but there were local shops at every island or little village. It is nice to see that many now have discovered the beauty and possibilities of these islands and fjords. This afternoon at the end of a very beautiful long weekend, they are all heading back to their home berths. There is a good, NW breeze, as we often have in the afternoon on such days. Here are a few of the boats I particularly noticed on this trip. First, two sea scouts’ boats, representing long maritime traditions, and a classic beauty, probably a Sparkman and Stephens 40.
Remnants of the past!
Two content sailors heading home 🙂