Vega

We sailed, nice winds, to Vega yesterday. Vega is a rather large island in the west. It has a couple of peaks, the highest reaching 799 meters above the sea. Part of the island and its archipelago is a World Heritage Site. Hakan had told Eva that this is a flat island suitable for cycling. She was sceptical when we saw the island from a distance.

The harbour book describes a marina by the ferry port to the very east of the island (actually separate island, Ingeroe). We found another one closer to where we wanted to be. Gardsoya (Gardsøya) gjestehavn is by the World Heritage information centre.

Gardsoya has a fast ferry to the mainland and the fairway there is well marked.

The marina is under development and had electricity but no facilities when we were there (except when we could sneak in to the lobby of the info centre).

We took our bikes for a ride on the island today. And, the northern part is flat. Not Denmark flat but by Norwegian standard very flat.

We went west towards Sundsvoll. The Vega stairs (Vegatrappa) starting point is about 1 km beyond the “base camp”, some 11 km from the harbour. This is a beautifully crafted wooden stairway up the mountain, now cut short by a landslide last year.

One can walk about 75 m up before it is cordoned off. This is enough to give you a nice spot for a break with breathtaking view.

Cycling back, we were on a mission to find Eva’s relatives. Her father’s sister and two cousins live on the island that she has not seen for 50 years. We had the address to one of the cousins but had not been able to get in touch. We cycled there but no one was home.

Eva went to the neighbours to enquire, and they turned out to be her aunt and uncle. The rest of the day and evening was spent with the families and a visit to Eva’s grandmother’s grave. The marina was ablolutly calm at sunset,.

Torghatten and Bronnosund

The wind had died down over night to a week northerly. We decided to motor north. The goal for today was Torghatten (the market square hat). A mythical island and a clear landmark from afar.

Legend has it that there were eight virgin sisters. They were not ordinary people but children of the giant King Sulitjelma. They were swimming in the sea when Hestemannen (the horse man) saw them. He immediately fell in love and decided to take one of them. The girls realised this and fled south.

Seven of the sisters throw themselves in the sea near Austahaug. We can see them to this day as the mountain range “The Seven Sisters”. One sister Lekamoya (Lekamøya) continued south. The giant King Bronnoyfjelene (Brønnøyfjellene) sees the hunt. When Hestemannen puts an arrow on his bow the King throws his hat and the arrow goes right through it. Lekamoya is saved and the hat lands on the water and turns into rock. And there it lays to this day .

The big hole from the arrowis still there and out goal is to walk through it. We find the visiting pontoon in the small marina empty and ties up. It is about 3 km cycle ride in a beautiful summer landscape to the start of the path up the mountain.

The path has recently been renovated and a group of Himalayan sherpas has built a stairway in stones with 1001 steps. A masterpiece in itself. The view towards land when you reach the hole in the mountain at 140 m is impressive.

You can walk through the hole, encouraged not to linger due to the risk of falling stones. The hole is 160 m long and 10-28 m wide and 29-59 m high. It feels like walking in a cathedral.

We took a coffee break on the other side. From here, one can look out on the beautiful Helgoland archipelago with its thousands of small islands and skerries.

The walk down on the west side is steeper and used to be quite demanding (there are still warnings in some of the texts, even on site). We felt safe with the new stone stairs. The return to the starting point follows the sea.

Cycling back to the boat, we had a view of the seven sisters  in the far distance.

The forecast for the night and following morning is for SE winds blowing right into the bay so we decide to motor the 5 nm to more protected waters in Bronnoysund (Brønnøysund). One passes under the winding bridge before entering the marina.

Here we found the Saturday night on the town commotion but also a nice hot shower and a beautiful warm summer evening. Or is it night when the sun sets at half past eleven?

Rorvik

The next morning offered perfect conditions for reaching up the cannels. We started early and managed to average over seven knots the first hours. It was clouded but warm in the offshore wind.

We sailed close to the islands in the east and had calm waters. Some gusts from the higher mountains boosting our speed and even one strong enough to make us broach. Nothing really dangerous and weak compared to what we experience along the high costs of the Mediterranean.

The wind was slowly dying as the sun burnt away the clouds. Nice and warm for us but nor good for sailing. We managed to maintain reasonable speed for another hour or so using our largest sail, the gennaker. We were back to motoring the second half of the day.

We moored to the pontoon in Rorvik (Rörvik). A bit noisy from traffic during the day and some swell from the boats in the harbour but, the night was calm and quiet.

Generalising, one can say that there are three winds in Norway, following wind, headwind and no wind. With the following wind the tactic would be to sail, the longer the better. No wind offers a choice of two strategies, you can either stay put and wait for following wind or motor. We have chosen the latter most of the time.

The head wind offers three strategies; (apart from sailing the other way which makes it a following wind) staying put, tacking upwind or motoring. We have not to any extent encountered this wind until now. Today however, it has been northerlies up to 30 knots (15 m/s). We opted for staying put.

The coast between where we are now and Lofoten can have prolonged periods of rather strong northerlies, often in connection with good weather. This may force you to motor to get to your destination in reasonable time. The advice is then to motor in the evening when the wind dies down. This is not a problem as the days are long and it is light until well after midnight already in middle of May and soon all night long. The sun set at 11 pm today.

Rorvik has a lot of shops, and not only cloths and tourist stuff, conveniently close to the marina. We made two tours and found everything wanted on our lists.

Took a longer walk to the south side of town in the afternoon.

Kuringenvagen, Stokksund

The forecast was for light easterlies as we left Storfosna so we hoisted and unfurled our Code 0. Nice reaching but, the morning breeze was stronger than expected and we soon made the same 7 knots with the genoa instead. The wind died abruptly after about two hours leaving us motoring for the rest of the day.

The Kjeungskjær Lighthouse occupies the entire rock.

We went into Lysoysundet to take diesel. It turned out to be a very good place to refuel. It was too early to stop for the day so we motored up to Stokksund and under the bridge.

Kuringenvagen (Kuringvågen) marina lies just enough of the fairway in Stokksund to be protected from the traffic as well as most winds. It has excellent pontoons and nice facilities. We decided to stay an extra day to do laundry and fix some small things on the boat in the very nice and warm weather.

The day was also very calm with hardly any wind whereas the following day promised a nice SE breeze to propel us further up the coast.

We have now sailed a little more than 800 nautical miles since leaving our home port a month ago. As you may see, we are about as far north as Umea (Umeå) in Sweden.

Two cold days

The rain during the night and a bit into the morning left us with colder air and a V to NV wind. We continued from Kristiansund inside some island in a very nice channel before we had to enter the rather boring ”Tronheimsleja”.

We headed N after rounding the smaller island SE of Smola (Smöla). Bridges to low for our mast prevented us from sailing inside them. We have found that many bridges in this area are 16 m. This is too low for us with our 19.5 m mast even on low tide.

The archipelago changes character once again. Here, many of the islands are low laying and the smaller islands reminds us of Bohuslan.

The wind was now on our nose and strong with the swell from the Atlantic growing. We sailed with a reef in the main and just a few degrees lower than close hulled. Sally performed excellently, she sailed high and dry with good speed.

Again, a too low bridge (18 or possibly 16 m, it is not clearly marked on the chars but friends had to turn around, reporting 18 m in 2016) over the sound at Stromsoya blocked the protected channel. It forced us to sail another hour in the open sea before we could bear of and sail to Kvenvaer on Hitra for the night.

Next morning started with motoring through the nice cannels NW and N of Hitra against an ice-cold NE wind for about three hours. We could start sailing once in more open waters NE of Hitra.

A few tacks and then we could bear of SE to Storfosna. By now the sun was out in force and gradually thawed our frozen bodies. Vagen (Vågen) on Storfosna is known since Viking days. They used the big bay, almost totally surrounded by land, to hide their ships. It is a perfect anchorage protected from all winds and offering several alternative anchorages around the bay.

It also has a small marina at the northern end. We felt that only the pontoon end closest to the pier offered enough depth for us. The inner one, suggested in the harbour guide, should be approached with care. We measured 2.3 m just outside when the tide was not fully out.

The day ended with summer weather and a nice walk on the island.

Hustadvika and Kristiansund

Hustadvika present the next challenge for a sailor going north. It is a stretch of near 30 nm with few shelters and mostly open water. Hustadvika is in part shallow and has many little islands and reefs creating unpleasant seas. The tide is irregular and ads to the confusion.

We had a fresh westerly and fair weather as we left lovely Ona early. One reef in the main and sometimes in the genoa to. Downwind sailing with good speed, sometimes surfing near nine knots.

We managed coffee as normal around eleven. But for once, we replaced the lunch with some fruits and chocolates as the waves had gathered in size, the motion of the boat did not inspire cooking.

Once again, we sailed together with Salto. Today she had to push a little harder than us the keep the same speed due to her shorter hull.

We arrived as planned in Krisitansund, a town with some industry and a good marina and had dinner onboard Sally on the crabs we cooked the night before.

Ona

Compared to Alesund, with its more than 50 000 inhabitants + tourist + cruise ships, the islands of Ona/Husoey with 15 permanent inhabitants is in our humble opinion, a smaller place.

We Passed under one of the many bridges connecting the islands. This one is fairly new. You can see the large “islands” filled around the pillars to prevent collision. If you look closely, you will also see the row of markers leading up to the bridge in a straight line.

Beautifull scenery along the way.

Ona lies in the Atlantic/Norwegian see as the last island in a chain running NW from Alesund. Next stop is Island. It consists of two connected islands: Ona and Husoey.

The harbour is quite small, and the ferry is built to fit, and for the shallow waters on its route along the islands to Ona.

We stayed for the 17 May celebrations (constitution day). All the boats on the guest pontoon flow their flags in honour of the day.

There was a parade across the islands as is the tradition. On this small island, the band was replaced with a fire truck with a speaker.

We were invited for lunch and bingo in the community hall. Very interesting to hear from the people who had grown up on the island about the old days. 50 years ago, there were 250 people living on the islands and a school.

After a short rest on board, the celebrations continued. Now with bubbles in the sunshine outside the local restaurant followed by more on the dock outside one of the converted boathouses.

We were invited to bring up some fish-pots before leaving our newfound friends. The were just thrown in the water from the pier and came up filled with crabs that was presented to us. An appreciated gesture from a most hospitable couple.

The day ended with cooking the claws for next evening. The crabs have no food in their shells at this time of the year so one only eats the claws. It has the added advantage of requiring a much smaller pot to cook them.

The sun set in the sea after a long and very pleasant day.

Alesund

We arrived in Alesund (Ålesund) late in the afternoon after motoring from Runde. The plan was to stay there for the 17 Maj celebrations.

Alesund is an interesting city. It was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1904. It destroyed almost the whole city centre, built mostly of wood. The town was rebuilt in the then contemporary Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) and it was nice to stroll the streets.

We went on a mission, to find Norwegian cash. Some marinas can only be paid in cash, so we needed a pile of banknotes in smaller values. We had been told by our bank I Norway that some shops would give out cash. As we have not been home since Evas account was opened, she only has her card electronically in her iPhone. That should not be a problem, said the bank but, the shop’s refused it.

We had also been told that the bank offices could not give out cash. The Alesund office could and, as a bonus, we were able to by shellfish from the boats in the harbour on our way back to the boat. We were also able to provision and by a fender step in the well stocked chandler. The later has since been a great relief for our old knees as the pontoons are quite low.

However, the marina, if you can call it that, was very noisy from traffic and totally without facilities. This led us to rethink and promptly leave having sorted all the immediate needs that required a larger town. We motored, again, to a smaller place.

Runde

Runde is an island far to the west. It has a small community of people but, the largest bird colony on this part of the coast. The marina is small, with room for two boats at the pontoon.

We arrived here in the afternoon after rounding Stad. We took a short walk to the information centre and an ice cream in the sun. The weather was fantastic with very light winds and summer temperatures.

Having oriented ourselves the previous afternoon, and taken advise from our neighbours on the pontoon, we unloaded and unfolded the bicycles. A 3 km road along the coast took us from the harbour to the starting point for the walk up to the birds. The bikes were locked to a fence and the clime started.

The first part was steep but once we were up on the moor, the going got a lot easier. We found a nice rock to sit on for a coffee and sandwich (as good an excuse as any to rest tiered legs).

We did not see all that many birds, but the views were breathtaking.

The fairway towards Alesund lies behind the small skerries.

We tried to sail for a while when we left Rude but never exceeded 1.5 knots. It was nice and calm whilst we had a salad for lunch in the cockpit but took us nowhere fast. Vetus was put to work as we gracefully motored across flat water towards Alesund (Ålesund).

Stad

We passed Stad, Norway’s Caspe Horn, in company with the Norwegian boat Salto.

Started in fresh but shortly dying wind that forced us to motor for a while.

The wind came back, and we were able to sail close to the impressive rock in a warm, and somewhat variable, breeze from the shores. Stad is known for its dangerous and confused seas.

We were spared the dangers, but the sae was markedly higher and irregular as we passed this headline thar protrudes like a fist from the coast.

It is also tricky in the sense that there are no harbours for the 15 or so nm around the head.We carried on a bit further north and entered Fosnavag (Fosnavåg) around lunchtime. This is a small town with a protected harbour but with nothing much beyond provisioning to offer.

Having had lunch in the somewhat smelly (fish and diesel) harbour, we left for a better option. to the west – Runde.

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