A Tourist Excursion and Viking Dreams

North from Stavanger the Norwegian coast consists of off lying islands
sheltering inner leads , and from time to time the mainland is penetrated by
deep fjords which have been tourist attractions since the late 19th century
( the Kaiser was on vacation in one at the outbreak of the first world
war!) The further North you go , both the islands and the inland mountains
get higher and higher and the fjord scenery ever more dramatic. Unfortunatly
they are not good places to visit in a yacht as there are few places
shallow enough to anchor ( a depth of 1200 m being not untypical!), the wind
is often gusty and invariably from where you want to go and it may be 50
miles to the head waters .

On the way North from Holland we were passed by a large cruise liner with
the stated destination of Geiranger on her AIS display. At the time I had not heard of
this port , but it turns out that it is a small town at the head of one of
the most spectacular of the fjords , and a frequent destination of cruise
ships. Despite my previous hint to that effect , we weren’t quite ready to
join the cruise ship brigade , but a day trip on a Hirtegrute , now that
might be a different thing altogether.

For more than 100 years the Hirtegruten have plied the entire length of the
Norwegian coastline ( 2000 miles if you don’t count the wiggly bits –
probably 4 times that if you do!), initially as the only viable form of
communication and transport , but nowadays increasingly as a tourist
excursion. We have passed the modern ships in leads small enough to cause
US some anxiety , but despite this they look like small cruise ships even
if they do carry the defaced royal Norwegian ensign indicating their role
as mail carriers . However some of the older pre war ships continue to run
, kept on as National treasures , and it so happened that one was due in
Allesund on its way North , with a day excursion to Geiranger and back. We
jumped at the chance and were waiting on the quayside at 0800 as she docked
, on time to the minute.

The good ship Lofoten was small and elegant and feeling her age. The
armchairs had seen better days , her deck plating might well have been more
paint than steel , and it was impossible to place a cup of coffee on a table
on the aft deck without it bouncing off ( I would have wanted to examine her
propeller shaft bearings before rounding the North Cape!) On the other hand
everything was wood panelled , the buffet lunch was splendid and best of
all the weather was so exquisite you could lounge on deck on the sunny
side and gasp in amazement at the scenery as, at 15 knots , she made
mincemeat of the 100 mile journey to and from the fjord head.

From Hurtigruten

By 1800 we were back on Festina and planning our next move. The forecast
showed strong wind and rain to the North , but much better weather south of
Stad , the notorious headland to our South , so that’s the way we have come
to enjoy a few more days pottering before crossing to Shetland. It seems
madness to leave this stunning country, but Shetland seems just an
extension of Norse waters ; a timeless stepping stone for Norwegian
adventurers on their way to Scotland , Ireland , Greenland and even
Newfoundland and the America’s beyond . We are sitting out our first rainy
day for a week , anchored once more under the looming cliff of Alden ( 61
18.9N , 4 46.4E ), thoroughly enjoying the chance to rest , study and plan
how we can follow , in a timid sort of way, the footsteps of our Viking
heroes .

All well , back on Festina.


  1. It’s great to catch up on your adventures Lynda and Phil…albeit a trifle annoying hearing about weeks without rain as another thundery downpour hits Hamble. Missing you Phil in the choir and the ‘Hambleleles’, but keeping your place warm for in prep for your triumphant return. All the best, Bill

  2. Hi Lynda, hi Philip,

    it was very nice to meet you on Bulandet! Hope you will enjoy your trip, Britta is back in Berlin since last weekend and I came back yesterday to my home port near Kiel.

    Best regards,

Leave a Reply