Day 175. Tromso to Raudberghamn

Posted by: James on June 24, 2009

Distance 45km | Time 10hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 175.1 Dramatic scenery above a idyllic homestead on the south side of StraumfjordI got up at 0600 to start packing and then went to have the buffet breakfast in the campsite cafe. I chatted with the nice staff there until Bjorn arrived with the kayak at 0830. We loaded the bags into his car and he drove and I cycled to the marina where the river I waded up met the sea.

Bjorn had kindly looked at the rudder and a few other problems I had. He had modified the rudder as we discussed earlier by building up the rudder control pedals with foam and securing them with tie wraps. This allowed for the tension in the system to pull the rudder pedals forward to be released. This in turn meant the wires could move more freely without jamming. Some 20mm of foam were put on the rudder pedals to bring them forward. With the tension gone the rudder operated much better 

After chatting with Bjorn for a good while I finally cast of at 1000 and headed south under the high bridge. I was wrong about the change in the weather and it was a stunning day again. The tide was starting to come back in and there was a considerable current under the bridge against me, perhaps 6 km per hour.

I paddled through the current and down the wharfs and jetties on the east side until I was out of town. My dilemma now was whether to cross straight over to the island of Ryøya in the Straumsfjord or whether to follow the longer coast and then cut over Balsfjord to the island of Ryøya. At that point three cruise ships appeared from behind the island of Ryøya and my choice to follow the coast was made.

After some 5 km I decided to cross Balsfjord to the hamlet of Balsnes where the two fjords met. The paddle over was only some 6-7 km but it took ages. There was a strong current coming out of Straumfjord into Balsfjord directly against me. At times I was only doing 3 km an hour. It took nearly 2 hours to cross to the other side.

I stopped here for a bite and then entered Straumfjord. At its east end is the aforementioned island of Ryøya. It is right in the middle of the sound and creates two channels on each side. There are strong currents here up to 10 km per hour at times. I was arriving just as the tide against me was running at the middle third of the tide, or maximum flow.

I edged into the sound paddling hard round the odd headland. Out in the middle however there was little current so I aimed for the island. There must have been an eddy because I was doing nearly 7 km an hour right up to the white beach at the east end of the island. On each side on me in the channels I could see water swirling and boiling. My plan was to follow the south side of the island before entering Straumsfjord. I would then paddle across the diminishing current to the south shore.

The reason I wanted to follow the island was because it was a Musk ox reserve. The Tromso University Biology Department had put some 20 beasts on the island which measured 2 km long and 1 km wide. It was a beautiful island with birch, spruce and also pine trees on it and much of the east and south was fringed with a white beach. In the background was the fjord and the high snow covered mountains each side of it.

I did not see any musk ox but there were plenty of warning signs. Musk ox are volatile creatures and despite their considerable weight are fast and nimble creatures with short tempers. Old males which are expelled from the group by the new alpha male are particularly grumpy and may charge.

There were many eider ducklings here. They became very stressed if I got too close and started running across the water in all directions. Surprisingly some dived to elude me but came up after just 10 seconds. I kept my distance to avoid stressing them but they were nervous. The mothers were more relaxed.

I paddled down the entire 15 km of Straumfjord before resting. I had the current and wind against me but neither were that strong. However they kept me pinned at about 4 km per hour. There was some great mountain scenery but not on the same scale as the Lyngen Alps. I saw some white beaked dolphins or springer in the fjord here. They were large and vigorous and exhaled in a plume when they surfaced.  

Day 175.3 There were some families fishing for cod in small boats in Melangen fjordI had another small break in the sun before crossing the fjord of Malangen. By now the wind had disappeared and the tide if anything was with me and ebbing westwards. There were a few families fishing for cod in small boats near the shore and the odd ferry, cruise ship and freight ship further out in the fjord.

Day 175.2 Forest clad mountains line the side of Melangen fjordOn the west side of Malangen was a peninsula covered in thick forest. There was a hamlet by the shore here called Aglapsvik, and a large beautiful white beach in front of it. I thought about camping here by wanted to round one last point before entering the more sheltered Gisundet so I would not be stranded if the wind veered to the north and increased.

This last point was gnarly and composed of what looked like reddish granite. I had to take my glasses of to confirm it was so red and it was also glowing in the evening sun. The vegetation here was sparse and the terrain looked quite arid. 

Day 175.4. Crossing Melangen fjord and looking west to the jagged skyline of the dramatic and large island of SenjaAcross the water of Gisundet was the island of Senja. It will be my western companion for a few days I think. It is Norway’s biggest island. Kare was doing some geological fieldwork here and he told me the west side is very dramatic with very steep high mountains. The trouble is it is exposed to the ocean and could be challenging to paddle.

Day 175.5 The hamlet of Raudberghamn with its wonderful beach where I camped the nightI rounded the point of reddish granite and then reached the wonderful Raudberghamn, which is a small hamlet of old houses with a large beach in front of it. The houses are now mostly summer houses for the children and grandchildren of the original homesteader. I paddled onto the beach at 2000

I set the tent up straight away as there were a few mosquitoes about. Soon the air was thick with them. I retreated into the tent to eat, write the blog and mostly escape the mosquitoes. I did not get to bed until 0100 due to the writing. 

It had been a fantastic day, with some exciting water and idyllic scenery. The weather was also perfect and it was nice to finish the day with a nice beach in the evening sun.

Comments are closed.