Distance 70km | Time 14hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m
The alarm went at 0330. Without even pausing for a moment to think I got up. I knew any delay would be fatal as I would rationalize a reason to go back to sleep. Breakfast was a packet of biscuits and a bar of chocolate. I then slid the kayak down the bank to the water packed it and set off at 0500 all in the dark. I paddled about 2 km to the bridge before the first hint of dawn started to appear.
I was still in a bit of a daze as I paddled up Tromoysund. I felt very tired and yawned profusely. Tromoysund seemed really to go by in a blur. It was completely wind still which did not help wake me up. The south shore here seemed to be a sparse string of houses sometimes bunched into the odd hamlet but by and large it had a rural feel.
It was only when I got to the semi open sea around 0700 did I start to wake up a bit. There was a small amount of wind now and there was the area with some swell coming through the shoals and skerries to make me more alert. It was just a force three at the most but it was directly behind me thankfully.
I started to get into my pace more and headed up the east side of Sandoya where a line of skerries protected me from the swell. Not that this swell was difficult but it would have slowed me considerably and as the crow flies today was 66 km. At the north of Sandoya I noticed the wind was swinging more southerly as I crossed Sandfjord to reach Askeroy. At the east end of Askeroy was a town called Lyngor.
Lyngor was the Sorlandsidyl. It was built around a basin hemmed in by a few islands at the east of Askeroy. It was renowned as possibly the best preserved and most beautiful town on the south coast. When I reached it I could see why.
There were a few channels radiating out from this central basin. Both the basin itself and the channels were lined with gorgeous wooden houses and small businesses. Now doubt the sail maker who had a building here did not make sails any longer here and the boat yards no longer contained welders and but the buildings were intact and used for more gentle businesses still associated with boats like varnishing. The houses were rectangular and white and many were quite grand and very well kept.
There was a shop so I went in to see if they had a coffee just to have a nosey round. The shop was characteristically quaint for the town with goods neatly stacked on wooden shelves. They did not have coffee and suggested the café. I did not really have time though and set off slowly for a tour around the basin. It was raining heavily so I could not take as many or as good photos as I wanted but some were OK. It was indeed a very beautiful town from a bygone age. There were still some cabin cruisers polluting the scene but there were also many working boats and older modest wooden sailing yachts.
With regret I left before I was ready and paddled out of a small channel lined with old houses and was into the east end of Lyngorfjord. Soon the islands to the south were running out and I was into the open sea. By now however the wind had shifted to the south east and it was a force four. I was worried about this as it was would be from the side. However it was too bad yet but it was forecast to increase.
There was one small peninsula which was getting the full swell of about 2 metres and this was rebounding for quite a way out with a confused sea. It was a short section though and I was soon back into the shelter of the skerries as I paddled up to the end of this peninsula to Fie. There was then a windy crossing with a fair bit of shelter across the fjord of Stanfsholmsgapet to the town of Risor. As I approached the town I thought the wind was up to a force five but it was swinging back to the south west again and was behind me.
I ate lunch as the wind blew me past Risor. In half an hour I was blown nearly 2 km up the side of Risoya with the town drifting past across the sound. It also seemed a nice town but not in the same league as Lyngor or larger Arendal but more like Lillesand. I saw it from a distance though the drizzle and not that closely.
After Risor I again had the shelter of some islands for about 5 km and I was beginning to get quite optimistic about getting to Aroy tonight as there was only some 27-28 km left to go and it was just 1400. It was the advantage about getting up early that I had already done some 45 km. As I reached Gjernestangen the weather started to deteriorate to another stage again. I had to detour to go out around this point and this forced me into the open sea.
From Gjernestangen north there were many shoals and skerries along the shore and it did not look like there was an inside passage. It was now a solid force five and I was forced to paddle in the ocean if I wanted to continue. I could not really look at the GPS as I need both hands on the paddle. If it continued like this I could just make it to Portor where I would be some respite and be able to plan the route further. Between me and the shore all the way up the coast to Portor some 5-6 km to the north was surf as the breaking swell crashed onto the skerries and toppled on the shoals. Occasionally I had to detour out further to avoid shoals. I was nearly a km from land.
There was some very heavy rain showers but it did nothing to dampen the sea state. Then the wind increased a notch again to a force 6. It did not take long before the waves responded. The white caps were now everywhere and most were about 30 cm high on top on the 2 metre high waves. I was getting to my limit and when I felt the wind was not decreasing and might have even been a force seven now with spray flying everywhere I decided to get the hell out of there.
As I paddled in to what I hoped was an opening a fishing boat drew abreast obviously heading for shelter also. The boat was heaving and surging all over the place and he had obviously called it a day. He was looking out of the wheelhouse at me disappearing in the troughs and leaping up on the white crests thinking madman. Soon the boat made it to calmer waters and I followed this local knowledge. Soon I was in sheltered enough water to take a hand off the paddle.
Just then the wind did increase to a force seven and there was the heaviest rain shower I have experience this year. I was amongst the skerries again and the splash of the rain was flowing over the skerries in the wind and across the water like spindrift. I managed then to have a look at the GPS now and lo and behold there was a route along the inside of skerries and shoals for some 3 km all the way to Portor. It looked like I might make it after all.
As I sneaked through the skerries the rain ceased and I made good progress in the strong wind. Occasionally I had to go round a headland but it was not exposed as the main violence between the sea and the land was taking place off the coast with the shoals and it was the remnants of the weather which got through.
I got to Portor and then had an easy crossing across the bay to Rapentangen with the wind pushing me fast. From Rapentangen I continued north east across Kragerofjord. To the south I could see the whole sea was white where the swell which has grown suddenly was toppling on the reefs and exploding onto the skerries. The wind which was still a force seven would then disperse the spray over the whole area. By the time I neared Vestre Rauane, an island in the middle of Kragerofjord the waves were already up to a metre just in the short one km fetch from Rapentangen and everyone was breaking. The sea in front was streaked with surf.
From Vestre Rauane it was a short surf across the rest of the fjord with smaller waves again until I reached Korset on the Skatoy. I just had 6 km to go now and all of it in a reasonably sheltered archipelago so I made a phone call to tell my ex mother in law to put the kettle on.
The last 6 km were very easy. The wind diminished to a force 6 as I wove deeper into the network of islands. To the south east was Jomfruland, a low lying crescent shaped island formed some 10,000 years ago as the terminal mound to the Ra moraine which is found as a band throughout the Oslofjord region.
The islands around Kragero have become very fashionable in the last 25 years for the wealthy of Oslo to build their summer cabins. In some places there are ridiculously opulent palaces from the new rich and in other places desperate social climbers have bought a small bare skerry and built a white palace on top of it complete with Corinthian pillars. The is little of the charm of Ny Hellesund here. Where there are the original communities on the inner islands there are some more charming places as there are on Jomfruland’s inner side.
Aroy is one such older community and there are also many older cabins here around its shore line. In one of these my ex mother in law, Ingrid, spends most of the summer. My ex brother in law, Peter, was also staying. I pulled into their jetty at 1900 after 14 hours paddling and soon had the boat on the jetty and emptied into the boat house.
It was good to see them and they made me feel very at home. I had a shower and had to borrow cloths as everything else was filthy or wet, much of it both. Clean and shaved I had a great meal of king crab and wine and then chatted in front of the television as the sun went down outside the window. Despite the early start I did not feel tired now and we chatted until 0100 before I went out to the annex cabin and cotton sheets.
It had been a very long day with all sorts of weather from the calm morning to the dramatic weather and seas between Risor and Kragero. It was nice to be back at this cabin which I have visited every two or three years for the last 30 years. I still get on with all my ex relations except the main one, who I luckily always manage to avoid.