Norwegian Islands

Up to now all our longer passages have been swift but rough, but the trip to Norway promised at worst moderate seas and a fairly gentle following wind. The spinnaker was handed at dusk when the wind obligingly climbed to 15 knots, at which point we make nearly as good speed with a poled out genny and the boat can be left to herself. By 0400 the wind was down to 10 knots again so the kite went back up, Lynda was left in charge and I fell deeply asleep. 4 hours later a completely knackered Lynda woke me to say that it was blowing 20 knots, and could we please take the kite down so that she could relax. It was now my watch and so I readily agreed, thus ensuring a peaceful time and much muttering from Lynda about how I always leave her to cope with the kite and get the easy watches!

One noticeable feature of the last two passages has been the complete absence of cetaceans. There is a lot of oil prospecting activity in these waters, and both East and West of Shetland we had to alter course for sonar survey vessels towing 6 mile cables. I have read somewhere that the sonic pulses put out by these kind of surveys are likely to disorientate, if not actually permanently disable cetaceans who navigate in a sonar world. All the way up to the Hebrides we would be guaranteed to see some sort of whale or dolphin every day (and often several times a day) but up here in the land of oil we saw nothing. I can’t help feeling that there is a connection between these facts.

20 miles North of Stavanger is the island of Utsira, known to British sailors for the 2 shipping forecast areas of North and South Utsira which are named after it. South Utsira in particular always seems to have a gale blowing. Having set off a few days earlier than planned we had time to spare before our flight from Stavanger, so we decided to stop there and see why! The island popped up over the horizon looking like a set of jagged rocks , but as we got closer the spaces between them filled in to reveal a rather barren rocky landscape with a harbour at either end and a fertile little valley running the one and a half km across the middle between the two harbours. We chose the South harbour ( the wind was by now a fresh NW) and were astonished to see that the island supported about 200 very smart houses and a considerable permanent population despite being 10 miles by sea from the nearest large town of Haugesund. We decide to stay for a couple of days , not least because the sun shone all day for the first time in the two months since we had left the Hamble, allowing us to dry and air the boat , a job that was long overdue.

From Then Norway

15 miles further down the coast is the island of Kvitsoy ( in reality a little archipelago) , and once you have threaded your way into the midst of these islands you find yourself in the most perfect sheltered natural harbour you can imagine. 9 years ago we met Englishman John Cooper and his Norwegian wife Liv here and struck up a friendship, so it was with extreme pleasure that we looked forward to meeting them again in this marvellous place. Liv grew up on the island where her family had been pilots and fishermen for generations. Nowadays many of the houses are used as holiday homes, but the regular ferry service, some fertile agricultural ground and a degree of continuing fishing activity have kept it a vibrant and healthy community. Norway is obviously doing very well for itself despite the downturn in the oil based economy and the Coopers were justifiably proud of the way the state looks after Liv’s 92 year old mother even out here on an island out at sea.

Out here on Kvitsoy we are just a hop and a skip from Stavanger and our mid cruise break. Our meanderings so far this year have taken us to some memorably wild places and brought us in contact with fun people , and if it has been colder than would be ideal , modern clothing and our blessed heater have easily coped with it. Theoretically the second half of the trip will be far more civilised; it will be interesting to see which we enjoy most!




One Comments

  1. Hi Philip and Lynda,
    I haven’t read your blog for a while but this weekend I found myself with some time on my hands as John is helming a Link 30 at Cowes and I’m in France. As usual, what a pleasure. I find your travels and observations fascinating. Anyway, just wanted to let you know I’ve remember about your blog and will carry on reading so keep them coming.

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