Day 233. Egersund to Ystebo in Sokndal

Posted by: James on August 21, 2009

Distance 41km | Time 10hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 333.1 The coastline towards StapnesI left the campsite at Steinsnes at 0830 with all the promise of a good day. It was reasonably windstill as I paddled across the basin with the idyllic cabins on the island and under the railway bridge. There was a good current here from the river and it took me into Egersund sound. I continued south and went under the bridge connecting Eigeroy island to the mainland where there was a slight current against me.

It was about 6-7 km down the sound to Vibberodden lighthouse on the west of the sound on Eigeroy island. What I had seen yesterday in Egersund was a charming old centre. The industry was here. There was a large factory making trawling nets, a protein plant probably making fish food, many fish processing plants and also a large shipyard. This was the bread and butter of Egersund. The town itself was up an inlet from this more industrial sound.

Once I reached Vibberodden I reached the North Sea. There was no shelter here and the winds of the last few days had created quite a large swell. The more I paddled out towards the hamlet of Stapnes the large the waves became. In the end they were about 3 metres. The wind had also picked up and it was a force three now which was causing the odd white cap.

Day 333.2 The coast from Stapnes to Nesvag was wild and exposedAll along the coast here were knobbly crags and small cliffs rising out of the sea. The rock was still the light coloured anorthosite. As this large swell hit the base of the cliffs some of it crashed upwards in great plumes of spray while some of it rebounded back and caused some large clapotis and a lively lumpy sea.

About half way along the GPS stopped working. It was not picking up the satellites but the screen and map was OK. I looked briefly at it and could see water had got into the ‘waterproof’ terminals. It is a Garmin 60CSx. I never was that convinced by the rubber covers over the terminals so put waterproof tape over them. However after 3 months this tape must have leaked a bit. A battle with Garmin’s customer services awaits.

Day 333.3 The entrance to Nesvag harbour was behind a series of rocky islets with some narrow passagesI continued down past some spectacular outcrops and cliffs along this lonely unsheltered coast for a good 12 km from Stapnes with no possibility really of coming ashore except in an emergency. There were really very few sheltered spots until Nesvag. Here there was a bay with a string of rocky islands across the mouth. Between these islands the swell was squeezed into large steep waves at least 4 metres high. Once in the bay however it was surprisingly quiet.

Day 333.4 The old trading village of Sogndal-strand was renowned as a well preserved villageI pulled up but a floating jetty and looked at the GPS. It was indeed wet under the ‘waterproof’ terminal covers. I stripped everything off and laid it in the sun while I ate. Two older ladies came over and chatted. They told me about the next village Sogndal-strand and its old trading history and a German ship with 350 British prisoners on board in 1940. The British disabled the ship which hid in Jossingfjord. Apparently the prisoners escaped and were helped by the local population. Apparently this story so incensed Hitler he invaded Norway. The term ‘Jossing’ became synonymous with a patriot as opposed to a ‘Quisling’.

Day 333.5 The steep cliffs along the coast between Sogndal-strand and Ana-siri were impressiveWith the GPS dried and working I left the sunny shelter behind these islands and ventureD forth into the North Sea again. I soon reached Sogndal-strand and just poked my nose into the outer harbour of this town. It looked very quaint but I am sure the really old bits are around the inner harbour. I then crossed the very spectacular Jossingfjord. It was a deep slot which cut far into these white mountains. There was a quarry up the fjord and near the mouth was a small hamlet which clung to a flatter area at the foot of the cliffs. It really was a spectacular landscape.

Day 333.6 Looking down into the deep and steep JossingfjordI paddled on as I wanted to try and reach Hidra. However the waves and clapotis and perhaps a current conspired against me and I was only doing about 3.5 km. I passed a very lonely farm completely isolated by cliffs and coast and then noticed the skies started to darken. The swell was still large and the south west wind was still around force 3 and 4.

I approached the mouth of the where Ana-Siri lay and wanted to paddle on. Just offshore here was a large shoal called the Sirigrunnen. It was some 5-6 km long and 2 km wide and only about 10-15 metres deep. It was known for its dangerous waves as large swells reared up and toppled in here. I could see a couple of areas of heaving surf. However it was also one of the richest fishing grounds, for herring especially, in the North Sea apparently.

As I passed the entrance to the narrow fjord to Ana-siri the skies became very dark. It was about 1730. I was continuing along this dramatic coast when suddenly there was a flash and a loud thunder clap. This was followed but a few more and soon the wind whipped up to a force 6. I decided to head in for shelter. It was a wise decision.

For the next hour I fought to go just 2 km into the fjord. The wind was behind me, the large waves were behind me and becoming alarmingly steep but I was just not making much progress despite paddling hard. The lightning continued to flash and the thunder was very soon after it. There were two red lights on a pole beside the very narrow fjord.

I soon realized there was a very strong current against me. I could not work out why. I paddled hard and slowly the white houses of Ystebo were getting closer. After quite a struggle I rounded a rock and saw a breakwater on the west side. I paddled furiously towards it and slowly gained on it. I had been paddling hard for a good half hour now spurred on by the lightning. Just as I reached the breakwater the heavens opened. It was a tremendous downpour. The landscape was already exceptionally dramatic and with the thunder and lightning and now heavy rain it looked apocalyptic.

Day 333.7 After the thunderstorm at Ystebo looking into the steep fjord at Ana-siriI made it past the breakwater and saw some grass by some small jetties. I beached and dragged the kayak onto the drenched grass. This would do for a campspot in these circumstances. Just then a figure dashed to a boat and covered some sacks of cement with plastic. He then came over and with 30 seconds invited me in.

Half an hour later I was eating fresh crab dinner with Jan and Gunn Eide in a wonderful comfortable cabin on a well laid dining table. It was delicious. I was then invited to stay the night and poured a large cognac. It was utter luxury and all the more so as the thunderstorm was still continuing outside. We chatted, watched athletics, chatted more and even washed my cloths. Jan and Gunn Eide were successful retired farmers from Finnoy island near Stavanger and this was their cabin.

They had grown up children and one was married to an Englishman. There were lots of topics discussed and they were also fascinated with my journey. Apparently the current in the narrow fjord was caused by a hydro electric discharge. There were three turbines in all and these really made a current, but I only had two turbines against me. The red lights on the post I saw earlier indicated to the fisherman returning to Ana-siri harbour further up the fjord how many turbines were discharging. There was a red light for each of the three turbines.

They made up the spare bed and I slept in fresh cotton as the weather slowly improved. I had the window open just to hear the rain and revel in the fact I was supremely comfortable.

It was a very good day. The paddling was exciting, the scenery was exceptionally dramatic, especially in the thunderstorm and the Eide’s hospitality was just wonderful.

2 Responses to “Day 233. Egersund to Ystebo in Sokndal”

  1. Chuck Haberlein Says:

    James: Your saga (now approaching its January starting point) is a wonderful tour of Norway. I am enjoying every word!
    The tale you relate of the Anglo-German incident in Jøssingfjord needs a bit of refinement, though. The German tanker Altmark, with nearly 300 British merchant sailors on board as prisoners (they had been captured by the armored ship Graf Spee in the last part of 1939) had been moving south through Norwegian waters, guarded by the Norwegian Navy. The Norwegians had failed to thoroughly search the Altmark while it enjoyed the protection of their territorial waters and so did not know about the prisoners, whose presence constituted a gross violation of Norwegian neutrality. The British Navy, which was aware of the prisoners, sent in the destroyer HMS Cossack on 16 February. The resulting boarding of the Altmark by Royal Navy sailors resulted in the deaths of some German crewmen and the prisoners’ repatriation.
    The Altmark incident raised serious doubts in both British and German minds about Norway’s ability to defend its neutral status. Pre-existing German invasion intensions were thereby intensified (as were British plans to mine Norwegian waters), but both sides had much more important strategic goals. For the British the main one was to cut year-around German access to Swedish iron ore through the port of Narvik. The primary German objectives were two: To protect their access to that iron ore, and (more importantly) to seize Norwegian ports for its Navy, thus greatly improving its ability to attack Britain’s Atlantic shipping lanes. The main German advocate of invasion was their Naval leadership. Hitler’s anger about the Altmark affair was just a contributing motivation.
    For additional information, see (among other sources): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altmark_Incident

  2. Doug and Cat Says:

    Keep it up James! Has it been more arduous than the Shiants expedition of 2008?

    Best wishes

    Doug