Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Gullvika, Store Molle, Lofoten

Dive Site in Gullvika
After nearly a month in Norway, we've finally found a piece of wilderness sufficiently remote to lack mobile broadband internet access. This blog has been posted either by SSB [short-wave] radio or by satellite phone.

Finding our last beautiful anchorage excessively rolly as a gale approached, we moved to this more enclosed spot. The shelter was indeed better where waves were concerned - none entered. With wind though it was a different matter. The gusts topped 50 knots [90 km/hr] and ripped our initial anchoring effort out of the snug sandy bottom. A second effort centered more perfectly in the available space and using all the chain that would fit survived the height of the gale with tolerably little movement.

When the rigors of the wind abated, we realized what a gem we had chosen and resolved to stay a while to explore a bit both below and above the water. The accompanying pictures show the scene of our dives. All those shades of green are now dusted with the snow that is drifting down in the intermittent showers.

Today we surfaced from our second dive here to discover company in our isolated anchorage. A Dutch sailboat, ONRUST, is the first other cruising boat we have seen since our arrival in Norway.

At 5/29/2012 18:38 (utc) our position was 68°14.88'N 014°53.78'E

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Leaving Moskenesøy

Drying cod
After some time at the Sørvågen dock, the pervasive smell of drying cod told us it was time to move on.  The aroma was suggestive of the metaphor paralleling fish, guests and the passage of time and made us wonder if the residents were reminding us that we had exceeded our quota of days.

We certainly felt we had used our time well mixing work, sightseeing and exercise.

Sail repairs
Work first:  Our last use of the genoa just before arrival from Molde had displayed a remarkable amount of daylight through the upper part of the sail.  Our initial fears of rotten disintegrating cloth were reduced on close observation.  Only some threads had come adrift allowing a meter or so of seam to come apart - a problem Mary Anne quickly put to rest with adept use of sail repair tape and her sewing machine.

World's shortest place name
The relative ease of walking compared to docking and undocking led us to explore all four of the nearby fishing harbours on foot.  These ranged from picturesque Reine, five kilometers away to Å, a pretty village at the end of the Lofoten highway with no doubt the world's shortest place name. The harbour of Moskenes, for which the island is named was less memorable scenically but was graced with the loudest gull colony.

Out to sea
So at 7pm, we untied the lines and travelled through 7 hours of daylight to a 2am arrival here at Lille Molle Island anchored below a misty version of an Ansel Adams Yosemite cliff face.  ... we'd show you but, while the  mountain is as good as Yosemite, we are not as good as Ansel Adams.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Wendy's time on Traversay III

Norway ferry

A May to remember.  A place far, far from home. We are officially in the Arctic now.  We have navigated and tolerated and underestimated the power and the brilliance of nature yet again.

Today, I woke up in the Lofoten Islands.  I talked about this trip and imagined how it would be and still I was blown away by the landscapes and seascapes.  It was obvious that photographs would not do justice to the overall experience.
From the point of view of somebody with little boating experience, there was a mix of anticipation and anxiety all along.  But before I knew it, there was much to do and much to learn and far too much to focus on to permit emotional reflections.  If I was going to be any assistance to Mary Anne and Larry, I would have to learn to tie marine knots quickly and absorb the process of docking and be up and running with some of the day-to-day terminology in a jiffy.
I thought the howling williwaws we experienced while docked in Øye at the end of Norangsfjord were the most frightening thing I had ever experienced but this was not the case.  After leaving Molde the game changed drastically - we were heading for the open sea.  It was a first for me and I was not sure entirely what to expect, of the sea that is.  The three of us were on a 3 hour watch shift so that at no time was our speedy vessel left without constant observation and inspections of the horizon for other vessels or land masses.  It wasn't long before my anxiety was replaced by an overwhelming sense of peace.  When the winds were high and the waves contrary, everything on board was like clockwork.  When the wind died down and there were few sea swells, I would enjoy the birds of prey that fished around the boat and seemed to follow us mile for mile.

Union Hotel,  Øye
I don't quite remember sleeping as well anywhere else.  Being rocked gently to sleep by the sea must be second only to a gentle lullaby for a baby in the arms of its mother.  About half way between Molde and the Lofoten Islands, I stood watch outside and realized that there was no land in sight, just a moody sky that was beautifully decorated with a skirt of clouds just above the horizon.  I did a three-sixty to be sure to capture it all.  It was stunning.  The sun did not seem to set, or rise for that matter.  But the fiery orange ball lit up the wave crests ahead of us.  I bobbed up and down from my watchman's perch and enjoyed every second of this.  This was the thrill I hadn't expected and could not have imagined.

Overnight anchorage near Molde

This is the type of thing that makes you want more.

Words and photos by Wendy Lewis - Sørvågen, Lofoten Islands

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sorvagen, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands

Our entrance to these islands above the Arctic Circle took place at 2330 last night after a 2 1/2 day trip across some rough waters which revealed some weaknesses in our compass. It's easily confused because we're much nearer the Pole than we've been before. The nearly-perfect daylight at midnight also showed a large tear in the sail.These unhappy souvenirs of the passage will have to be repaired before our next engagement with the Norwegian Sea.
Norway Day parade
We left for the North country after a very short but enjoyable stay in Molde.  It was lovely to meet up with our friend Eva. We met her on the Norwegian ship "Opportune" captained by our friend Rune Somby. Eva and Rune completed a circumnavigation in June 2011 - this was the happiest boat (apart from ours) which we've met - the crew variously numbered Cecilia and a few others as it made its way home.

Eva Heimen and her parents helped us de-code the washer and dryer. The dryer had incomprehensible terms like "Skaptort" (locker dry), Stryketort (dry for ironing) and Rulletort (dry to be rolled). Our clothes were astonished at the individual concern lavished on them. Usually everything gets washed together and dried at the fiercest heat available for whatever coins we can scrape up.
Eva and her parents

May 17th is Norway's National Day. We watched it with the Heimens at the best available vantage point for photographs. We returned to the boat to enjoy a cross-cultural meal of pancakes (their contribution) and Canadian maple syrup.

Here in the Lofotens the weather changes from sunny to rainy to hail or snow. Fortunately, all three of us have lived in BC so we're not too perplexed by these changes. As per usual for Traversay III, we are early in the Season wherever we go.

At the Museum
Thus we were the first tourists to sign the Guest Book for 2012 at the Telecom Museum here. Because of the area's valuable fishery, the most sophisticated means of communication possible commenced service as early as 1861. Not a single Communications item in the subsequent 150 years has been lost or mislaid with a consequence that a vast array of wires, bulbs, circuits, tapes and hand-helds are on display on the 3 floor levels. The helpful curator made sure that we inspected each item.

Tied to the Dock in Sorvagen

We're happily tied to a dock with the fishboats. We feel overwhelmed by the beauty of this location and the kindness of the people.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Øye, Norway

Solving a docking problem
I was standing at the dock.  At my feet was one dockline tied to the circular cleat with the for-once perfectly-executed bowline. At the other end of the rope was Traversay III with Larry and our friend (and my former student Wendy Lewis) aboard. The boat was executing a series of swoops towards and then away from the dock in the gusty (up to 40 knots) winds. Boats are strange creatures and the pointy front end is thin and light. It veers away in a coquettish fashion whenever it's courted by a big powerful wind. Our 65HP engine exerted all reasonable force and seemed to be winning. But at the last minute, Trav always yielded to the wind's seduction and skittered away from me and the dock.  I wondered why I hadn't had the foresight to put a $20 US bill in the pocket of my sailing jacket and why-o-why I hadn't memorized our Sat-phone number (something any school-child learns to do).
Wendy Lewis

Finally Larry's brainpower conquered the boat and the wind. He tied a  secondary rope to my rope with a rolling hitch - this yielded enough slack so he could use the high-powered anchor windlass to winch the reluctant Traversay up to the dock.

Union Hotel
After this ordeal, we went for tea and apple cake to the 150-yr old Union Hotel. We took photos and had a look at the Kaiser Wilhelm, Arthur Conan Doyle and Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) rooms - all named after guests. Larry went for a walk and took stunning pictures with his mobile phone - camera left behind as it was pouring rain. Wendy told us a little more about the geological features (her profession - piano studies having been abandoned long ago!)

River above Øye
In an hour we'll leave after spending a day of intermittent gusty winds and rain in this (now sunny and beautiful) spot.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Around Statt

Calm departure from Bergen
The spring weather in the Norwegian Sea offers an almost continual succession of gales interrupted by brief pleasant periods.  Rain falls on mountain, sea, saints and sinners with complete indifference but strong winds and large waves can be largely avoided by navigating Norway's sheltered inside waters.

The notable flaw in this strategy involves the Stadlandet peninsula [Statt].  Rounding this inconveniently placed piece of mountain involves a 25 mile sail from shelter out to the open sea and back again.  Our premature departure from beautiful Bergen was dictated by a desire to round Statt 2 days later on May 12. This was the only date forecast to have acceptable weather out in the ocean.

Our departure day from Bergen was so calm that the only waves on the water were the ripples Traversay made as her motor pushed us through the water.  By anchoring time in the afternoon, the 20 knot headwind was just a mild preview of the following day.

The 11th dawned with the headwind still there but we needed lots of miles to be in position to round Statt on the 12th.  There was a gale in the forecast for the afternoon but that was for offshore right? Hah!

All went well until we had about six miles to go to our chosen anchorage at Botnane, Froysjoen at which point the wind cranked up to over 40 knots right on the bow.  My those last miles were a struggle!  But with perhaps 7 miles of fetch at worst,  our speed rarely dropped below 2 knots.

Finally, still outside crashing about in the waves, we identified the range markers and channel markers, turned right and galloped into the harbor basin.

As we passed those channel markers, the waves changed to ripples and the gale transformed itself into a breeze. The white creche against the mountains photo taken at anchor suggests the peacefulness of the scene. But you really had to arrive escaping the weather to fully appreciate it.

In the end, the overall plan worked.  The morning of the 12th dawned calm and the four hour passage around Statt, though rolly from leftover waves, was uneventful.  Once again our inside passage resumed with its well marked channels, shores decorated everywhere with small villages below and mountains above and wireless broadband everywhere.

The next projects will be to rest from too many successive days of travel and to travel up and down a fjord or two.

At anchor,
Raudoya, Orstafjord

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Mountain Top View of City
 After a couple of nights anchored along the way, we arrived in Bergen.  This city is a perfect mix of old Europe and charming mountain scenery.

The site of houses clinging to the hill sides enticed me to climb higher and higher up the slopes.  Eventually I emerged on top of one of the seven mountains that surround the city.  Notwithstanding the intermittent rain showers, the views of the city below were so memorable that I resolved to talk Mary Anne and Wendy into enjoying the same scene.

Having discovered a steep cable railway at the summit, I took the easy way down to see where I would emerge in the city - it turned out that the lower terminal was only a few hundred meters from the boat.

Funicular Railway
Just before our evening meal, a nautical looking Norwegian was walking along our dock.  Mary Anne asked if he was from the sailboat tied up behind us.  He said he wasn't but then pointed to his boat - a fast passenger catamaran tied across the basin.  These 35 knot vessels complement the slower vehicle ferries to provide service to the island communities scattered all along the Norwegian coast.

As a captain and ship's pilot, Helge was able to give us lots of pointers on safe navigation along his coast as well as many ideas about the most scenic and wildlife rich areas to explore.

As always, there is much ahead of us to see and our boat is not fast.  So, after too short a visit, we reluctantly leave this beautiful port to see what lies ahead.

Bergen Street
Fast Ferry

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Tananger, Norway

Our berth in Tananger
Stavanger Harbour
A two day crossing from Helgoland brought us to Tananger just as the winds started to blow from ahead. After 4 days here, we have given up the hope of a fair wind and will now be content to continue north if it would just stop blowing quite as hard.  The cool wind and occasional snow suggest that, if spring has indeed put in an appearance, she is quite shy and is only just peeking her head around the door.
Domkirche - Stavanger

City center park
Nearby Stavanger, accessible to us more quickly by bus than in the boat, is a charming city built on gentle hills. The pedestrianized streets, beautiful cathedral and high prices were all memorable.

We've now been joined by friend Wendy from Vancouver who will accompany us for a few weeks as we make our way north along the coast of Norway.