Day 144. Makkaur Fyr to Berlevag

Posted by: James on May 24, 2009

Distance 45km | Time 8.5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 144.1 Makkaur Fyr lighthouse lies on a wild exposed coastI had a good sleep. When I woke at 0700 I got up to start paddling but the weather had changed. It was pouring sleet and rain. The shed gutters were spewing out huge amounts of water. There was just a slight breeze. I decided to write up yesterday instead of setting forth in this miserable weather. Perhaps by the afternoon things would get better. The advantage of paddling up here in the Arctic is that is can set off when you want without regard to limited daylight.

I grabbed another hours sleep before I had breakfast, the same old staple of syrup covered roasted grain and powdered milk. It is much tastier that porridge. The rain and sleet showed no sign of stopping so I started the writing. It took a couple of hours and I was done by 1100. The weather was improving as I wrote and when I was done there was just the odd shower. I took a small hike up to the lighthouse to have a look around. It was a very solid stone building with the rotating light in a short tower.

By 1230 the weather had improved sufficiently to start packing and begin. There was a sea eagle perched near my kayak which disappeared as soon as it saw me. As soon as it was airborne a raven went out of its way to go and pester it. The huge eagle was no match for the fast and acrobatic raven and retreated out of the bay with the raven still harrying it.

I adjusted the rudder slightly to try and bring the rudder controls on the peddle forward more, which meant tensioning the wires more. Then I slid the half loaded kayak on wet logs to the thick layer of sea weed near the waters where I could drag it. The tide was starting to come in and as I packed the last I was afloat and it was about 1400.

Day 144.2 The days journey with the spectacular Vesteneset in the middle distance and Kjolnes in the far distance above the bowThere was a slight breeze against me and the tide was also against me. It was not like the north shore of Varangerfjord where I felt I was paddling in treacle however and I made reasonable time. I quickly made the entrance to Batsfjord where there was still a lot of snow. I did not go into the fjord but just cut across its mouth for 2 hours to reach the point of Vesterneset on the other side. Here there was still a current against me despite the fact the tide should have turned. The wind had by now completely disappeared and the sun was out. It was a glorious day again.

Day 144.3 The spectacular cliffs at the Eastern entrance to Kongsfjorden by VesternesetVesterneset also marked the entrance to Kongsoyfjord, more of a large open bay with a few islands than a classic fjord. It was known for its rich marine life and even coral and it a diving location. The eastern entrance to this bay was very dramatic and looked like it was off the front cover of a Tolkien novel. A dark,wet, smooth, rock towered what seemed like 200 metres almost vertically with the occasional needle and spire which had resisted erosion. I was going to land here but there was no chance. It was still sunny but there were clouds quickly forming on the Berlevag peninsula on the other side of the fjord.

It was about 15 km across the fjord here to a dark prominentary on the other side near Nalneset point. I decided to make for this and set off at once. The clouds gave me a bit of urgency and a light wind soon started to push me. It addition I think the tide must have changed also as I was making about 8 km per hour for the first hour. By then I was half way across and could see if any bad weather was arriving I would make the other side before it reached me.

Day 144.4 Halfway across Kongsfjorden with Nalneset point below the prominentaryThe second half of the journey was much more sedate. There were many puffins here and I think they must have been nesting on one of the islands in Kongsoyfjord which was predator free. They were not forming huge rafts of a thousand or so but many groups of ten. Occasionally there were single ones. These would be the most curious and would almost swim towards me to investigate. I had my lunch here as I drifted through these groups.

It was only when I reached Nalneset that I noticed the tide. The surface of the water became glassy again as the wavelets disappeared and the large wallowing swell suddenly got steeper in places. I was carried round the point and into a bay called Sandfjord, which I could see had a huge sandy beach. I did not go in but crossed the mouth heading for the tower of Kjolnes Fyr lighthouse.

Day 144.5 Riding the tide  north to Kjolnes Fry lighthouse with dramatic clould overheadThe tide was with me here and I made good time along the coast. There was a little rain from the dark skies and a couple of squalls of wind but the tidal current carried me through all this and soon I was approaching the lighthouse. Away from the cliffs and mountains around Sandfjord the cloud vanished again and I was reaching for the sunglasses.

Day 144.6 Kjolnes Fyr lighthouse just 6 km from BerlevagKjolnes Fyr was a more traditional lighthouse. It was a tower built on a rocky spit. There was a road to it and the keepers houses looked in good order so it might have been manned still. There was not as much tide as I had expected or hoped and I had to paddle round the rocky spit. Once I was round it I could make out Berlevag quite easily. Beyond that I could see the Nordkinn peninsula. Between the two was Tanafjord.

I could have easily landed here but it was just another 6 km and with a clear glorious windstill evening and a slight current I thought I would just push on for an hour and not get to Berlevag too late to find a cabin. It was a very pleasant cruise along the coast for an hour and I was soon paddling through the gap in the massive breakwater which made Berlevag harbour. Just behind me was the MS Nordlys one of the Hurtigruten ferries. I had to sprint across the harbour to keep out of its way as it was closing fast.

I beached on the sand where the river entered the harbour and went up to the camping and pensionat. I had been in the kayak for eight and a half hours non stop, which is testament to its comfortable seat. There was a number to ring and it was only 2230. I phoned it and he had seen me come into the harbour. Within half an hour I had everything carried up and was in a very comfortable, well organized, artistically decorated, tidy and reasonably priced pensionat, with a super kitchen, nice showers and great washing machines. It was owned and run by a Swiss German pair.

I cooked a meal, had a shower, sorted my stuff out, put on a wash and crashed out at 0200. Tomorrow I was having a free day in Berlevag and it was also the weekly choir practice tomorrow which I wanted to see.

It had been another great day with clement weather and great scenery topped off by many puffins.

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