Eagles , a Horse and some Fish at last.

With a fresh SE wind and the threat of rain to come , we fled north through ever grander scenery to the little town of Floro to await our friends John and Liv Cooper.

Having friends to stay is always a bit of a gamble , especially in the confined space of a boat , but we needn’t have worried. Johns boundless enthusiasm and Livs wicked sense of humour made their stay an absolute pleasure for us , and we got so much more out of being in Norway with their insights and guidance and general sense of fun. On the way North we had observed a pair of sea eagles , and they seemed eager to follow up my suggestion that we go back to spend some time in this area. To our delight the eagles were still there, but the anchorage I had chosen involved  an approach to a complex skerry from the open sea in winds that were now over 20 knots . Once inside,  the pilotage was intricate , although  safe , but the problem was where to moor for the night . The wind was howling over the low hills and funnelling in to the two natural anchorages. It all looked a bit dodgy until we found a tiny area where the wind seemed to disappear. What’s more the water was deep right up to the shore so we ended up bow to the rocks and an anchor astern in complete shelter whilst the wind howled past us on either side. Sadly the eagles were also grounded by the wind but we were entertained by a tern fishing just astern from us , the first indication that there was life under the water.

To our delight , the eagles were flying again  as we left the following morning for a brisk beat to the island of Alden , known for some reason as the Norwegian Horse. It’s an impressive beast  for sure – rising sheer out of the water at either end to 500 m , with a saddle in the middle.  That’s about as far as the resemblance went : with a bit of licence one could imagine a bulldog lying down – but a horse? Nevertheless it made for a brilliant walk , or climb , and although  the peak was in  clouds   you could scramble to the leeward cliff and peer through a hole in the cloud just big enough to reveal the skerries and islands , and directly below , Festina lying snugly in a little pool at the base of the cliff.

One of the 5 or so houses seemed occupied , and we talked to Frederick Alden , whose family had come there in 1750 to farm and fish. He was of the opinion that the only cod to be had were 100 miles to the North , and although the mackerel had arrived , they wouldn’t start biting for another month.

Well , he was wrong. Around the fearsome headland of Stad (we have a healthy respect for Norwegian headlands , having had quite a drubbing further south on our last trip here) the water turned green , suggesting a sandy bottom. Sand means sand eels – and sand eels mean birds – and to our delight we began to see puffins  and gannets and razorbills and kittiwakes – finally coming upon a huge colony of all of them nesting on the cliffs of the island of Runde. Even better was  a fine haul of mackerel for supper , proving that John was indeed a fine fisherman , matched only by Liv’s  soused cucumber to accompany them.

From Flora to Ona

Our final destination with the Coopers was the tiny fishing community of Ona – (pronounced OooNarr)- an impossibly pretty  collection of gaily painted  wooden houses perched on a rocky island far enough out to sea to escape most of the showers that break  upon the snowy peaks of the mainland shore. It was possibly our nicest port of call so far but all too soon we had to head back to the  city of  Alesund  for them to travel home and us to plan the next stage of our Norwegian travels. We are thinking of joining a cruise liner – and with that little bombshell I will say goodnight from Festina , soon to be abandoned in the handsome city of Alesund.

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